Yesterday, Indian National Congress observed Satyagraha against the Agnipath Scheme implemented by the present Government for recruiting soldiers in the Indian Armed Forces for a period of 4 years. After holding Satyagraha and submitting a memorandum to the President of India, a press meet was held at AICC Headquarters where Shri. Mohan Prakash, the party spokesperson, while addressing the Press said that the Government decision to convert the 41 Ordnance Factories in to 7 Corporations is against the interest of the Armed Forces and ultimately it will result in privatization of Ordnance Factories.
After the Left Parties and DMK, the Congress Party has now come out openly against the Government decision of converting the Ordnance Factories in to Corporation. To know the reaction of C. Srikumar, General Secretary of AIDEF, on the support of the Congress party to the struggle of the Defence Civilian employees against Corporatization, www.indianpsu.com interacted with him and his reaction is published here.
The decision of the Government to Corporatize the Ordnance Factories is another misadventure of the Government which has listened to the ill conceived advise of the vested interest persons in the corridor of power. When the Britishers’ left India there were only 17 Ordnance Factories in our country for manufacturing Defence Equipment. The Government led by Nehru after Independence realizing the requirement of self reliance and indigenization of Defence Production started establishing new Ordnance Factories. Out of the 24 Ordnance Factories established after Independence, 23 Factories were established by the Congress Government due to the vision of National leaders like V.K. Krishna Menon, Jagivan Ram, Y.B. Chavan and Indira Gandhi who were Defence Ministers. Only one Factory was established during the Vajpayee Government and that too because of late George Fernandez who was the Defence Minister in the Vajpayee Cabinet. He established an Ordnance Factory at Rajgirh in Nalanda, his Parliamentary Constituency.
It was these Ordnance Factories which was behind the Armed Forces for winning all the wars which India faced after Independence including Bangladesh Liberation and the Kargil Crisis. Due to this achievement of the Ordnance Factories, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called the Ordnance Factories as the fourth Force of the Defence of our country and the then president K.R.Narayanan in the joint session of the Parliament appreciated the role of the Ordnance Factories in supplying equipment to the Armed Forces when the Private Sector failed during the Kargil Crisis.
Knowing the importance of the Ordnance Factories, five Defence Ministers in the past have given written assurance that the Ordnance Factories would not be Corporatized, which includes two Congress Ministers, Late Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Shri A.K. Antony. However, the present Government in violation of all the agreements, have splintered the Ordnance Factories in to 7 Corporations. After Corporatization, we approached all political parties including BJP, INC, Left parties and Regional parties for supporting our demand that in the interest of National Security and Defence preparedness, the Ordnance Factories should continue to remain as Government Organization and not as a Public Sector. We have also approached the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. We received support from CPI, CPI(M) and the DMK. MPs from these parties have written to the Government and raised in the Parliament the issue of Corporatization of Ordnance Factories and demanded that the same should be withdrawn. Recently Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms. Mamata Banerjee, have also written to the Prime Minister to withdraw the Corporatization of Ordnance Factories. However it is first time we have come to know that the 2 nd major political party of our country the Indian National Congress have now openly criticized the Government’s decision of Corporatizing the Ordnance Factories. We welcome the position taken by the
Congress party to oppose the Corporatization of Ordnance Factories.
Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has already stated that if the Congress led Government comes to power then it will once again nationalize all those public Sector Industries which are privatized. The 4 lakh Defence Civilian Employees expect that the same stand the Congress Party may take on the issue of the Corporatization of Ordnance Factories.
Congress party may come with an open statement that in case of their returning back to power then their Government will withdraw the Corporatization of Ordnance Factories and will restore the erstwhile status of Ordnance Factories as a National important Defence Production Industry directly under the Ministry of Defence. We have already submitted alternative proposals and robust proposals for further strengthening the Ordnance Factories under the Government set up itself.
We have demanded that we should be given an opportunity to place our views in this regard to the Committee of Empowered Group of Ministers chaired by the Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh. Unfortunately the bureaucrats never arranged such a meeting with the EGOM. To curb our Trade Union Action against the Unilateral decision of the Government, the draconian EDSA 2021 was passed. AIDEF have challenged the decision of Corporatization of Ordnance Factories and also the EDSA 2021 in the High Courts. It’s a welcome move that more and more political parties have understood the danger of Corporatization and Privatization in Defence and are coming forward to support the genuine struggle of the Defence Civilian Employees.