Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anantkumar Hegde on Monday claimed that all employees of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited were traitors and anti-nationals who were unwilling to work towards uplifting the state-owned telecom firm from its beleaguered state, The Deccan Herald reported. He claimed that more than 88,000 employees would soon be fired from the firm, as the government will privatise it.
A video of him making these comments at an event held at Kumta area of his constituency, Uttara Karnataka, has gone viral on social media.
“BSNL has a system filled with traitors,” Hegde can be heard saying in the video. “I am using [the] accurate words to describe them. The government has given money, people require services and there is infrastructure. Yet, they [BSNL employees] don’t work. PM talks of Digital India, has provided funds and technology. Yet, they are not willing to work.”
The BJP parliamentarian also claimed that the BSNL was a blot on the entire country and that his government “will finish it”. “The central government will introduce disinvestment policy and close BSNL and the space will be occupied by private parties in the coming days,” Hegde said.
He said the disinvestment of the public sector undertaking was like “performing a major surgery,” according to the ThePrint. “In the coming days we will be removing all 88,000 employees and there could be more such developments,” he said. “It would be like a major surgery. We have made up our mind to privatise BSNL and bring it back to order.”
BJP Karnataka spokesperson S Prakash told The Print that the party “was standing firmly behind” Hegde, as he was only stating facts. “His comment was only about the inefficiency in BSNL,” Prakash said. “Hegde is only trying to say that despite giving BSNL adequate infrastructure, the best of technology and the required funding, they are unable to penetrate into new areas.”
This is not the first time the BJP MP’s statements have roused a controversy. In February, Hegde had said the role of Mahatma Gandhi in India’s freedom struggle was “one big drama”. “None of these so-called leaders were beaten by the police with batons even once,” he had said. “It was staged by these leaders with the approval of the British. It was not a genuine fight.”
Last year, Hegde had appeared to praise Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse. He had also accused former Indian Administrative Service officer S Sasikanth Senthil, who resigned as deputy commissioner of Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district after criticising the Centre’ Kashmir move, of treachery. He had once called former Congress President Rahul Gandhi a “moron”.
In 2018, Hegde had declared that the Constitution could be amended to remove the word “secular” from the preamble, though later he apologised for the comment.