The Union Mines ministry's decision to offload 10 per cent stake in the central sector National Aluminium Company (NALCO) has attracted a howl of protest from political parties of all hues in Orissa.
While Left parties have opposed the move straightaway, the ruling BJD and BJP have threatened to launch a state-wide agitation.
"The decision to offload 10 per cent is part of a systematic conspiracy to disinvest in NALCO wholly in the long run bit by bit. They have resorted to new tactic of reinvesting the funds in the company to have their way. We will not let the process start," AITUC leader Souribandhu Kar said.
Kar threatened that the AITUC would launch an agitation opposing the decision. "We may even go for a state-wide bandh as we did the last time when the NDA government wanted to disinvest in NALCO," he said.
Earlier in the day at New Delhi, Mines minister Sis Ram Ola said that his ministry had agreed to Finance ministry's proposal to offload 10 per cent stake in the PSU but money accrued from the disinvestment should be re-invested in NALCO.
Orissa's Industries minister and senior BJP leader Biswabhushan Harichandan said "we cannot understand what prompted the UPA government to take this decision when the PSU was making huge profit".
Meanwhile, CPI(M) had decided to lead a delegation to NALCO CMD C R Pradhan tomorrow to ascertain the status of proposed disinvestment.
The last disinvestment plan was put in cold storage after Chief Minister and BJD president Naveen Patnaik had expressed his reservation before NDA government.
The BJD also opposed the move. "Our party has been opposing disinvestment. Even Chief Minister had made his stand clear by opposing the move last time. However, party leaders will sit to discuss the issue," BJD secretary Priyadarshi Mishra said.
Objecting to the decision, the NALCO Employees' Association president Niranjan Das said the company is a profitable PSU.
It has been paying dividend in time. Its expansion is being undertaken with its own funds. It is strange that the UPA government has decided to divest 10 per cent.
Das said the association would oppose any kind of disinvestment in NALCO share.
The government has proposed to off-load 10 per cent of shares in NALCO in the market which will bring down its stake in the company to 77.15 per cent.
By selling 6,44,30,962 shares in the company, the government could raise upto Rs 1,400 crore based on the price of the company's scrip on the stock exchanges.