Bharatiya Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy on Saturday claimed that the Centre’s proposal to sell national carrier Air India was “potentially another scam in the making”. “Selling family silver is not divestment,” Swamy wrote on Twitter. “I am watching who is doing what and will, if I see culpability, file a private criminal law complaint.”
The Centre on Wednesday issued a preliminary information memorandum on the strategic disinvestment of debt-ridden Air India. The government has invited bids to divest 76% stake in the airline through transfer of management, control, and sale of the equity share capital.
The minimum net worth requirement to bid for the state-run airline is Rs 50 billion. The last date for bidders to show interest is May 14 while the bidders who will be shortlisted will be intimated on May 28.
On March 28, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said that the Centre’s move to divest from in Air India amounted to “selling the country”. “We strongly oppose this and want this order to be withdrawn immediately,” she said.
Congress leader Ahmed Patel too had questioned the Centre’s move, saying he was “shocked” to learn about the terms of the Air India privatisation plan. “The government will sell 76% equity but will retain 52% of the company’s debt?” he asked. “Isn’t this a complete sell out designed to benefit certain private agents?