This is not the struggle of onlyof LIC policy holders and insurance employees, but of all people. The workers of the country will take this fight forward. We will protect all public sectors—rail, coal, BHEL etc. because the public is the owner.
Summary of the Speech by Shri Dharmaraj Mohapatra, Joint Secretary, All India Insurance Employees Association (AIIEA) at the All India Meeting organised by AIFAP on 21 November 2021 on “Mobilise Consumers/Users and Other People to Participate in the Movement Against Privatisation”
This has been a tough time but the farmers’ struggle has shown us that if we are committed to fight, then there is no way to defeat us. Saying anything in opposition to the government is considered deshdroh. But in such a time, the farmers’ movement has given much strength to workers’ and people’s movements. Whether the name is monetisation or anything else, the aim is to give national wealth to corporates. First, it is true that there is no difference in Congress and BJP’s economic policies. However, there is a difference in the parties. Congress also nationalised some sectors. It is true that they started Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation, but all Congress members did not agree to this and there was some internal opposition. BJP/RSS on the other hand has always been against nationalisation. For example, the 1969 bank nationalisation was only opposed by Jan Sangh (RSS). BJP and Congress have similar economic design and policies but there is a difference. BJP does not believe in democracy and in constitution. They are authoritarian and believe in fascism. UAPA has been used against anyone who has opposed this government’s policies. And being anti-government has been equated with being anti-national.
Under Vajpayee, Balco and Modern Foods were privatised. Balco was sold to Starlight (now Vedanta) for pennies. Anti-privatisation struggle has gained more intensity under BJP rule. I salute the farmers. If more than 500 farmer organisations can unite despite political differences, workers should also unite in the same way. Central trade unions have united. Their All-India Convention has decided on a 2-day strike. In India, the 18 national strikes that have been carried out are why the public sector has not yet been privatised.
As far as the LIC struggle is concerned, we have mobilised public opinion against the privatisation of LIC since 1991. In 1991, the Malhotra Committee had recommended denationalisation of LIC. But under leadership of AIIEA, all insurance consumers, political parties, etc. were mobilised and we collected lakhs of signatures opposing this. It is the struggle of the LIC employees during the last 30 years that has ensured that they could not succeed in its privatisation.
People’s money is for people’s welfare. When LIC is generating huge amount of finance capital, control of this is linked with political and economic sovereignty of the country. During Vajpayee Government, L K Advani said in parliament in 1999 that if we open insurance market to private players and foreign ones, we will get money for development. I want to ask Modi ji how much FDI have we received in these 22 years for infrastructure? We have got only 2 billion dollars (Rs. 14,000 crores) and none of that has been used for infrastructure.
LIC has assets worth more than Rs. 30 lakh crores and it has 40 crores policy holders. When railway or other sectors default, we save them. We have not received a single penny from FDI. If you lose control of LIC, from where will you get money for infrastructure? We are reaching out to people, meeting intellectuals and politicians. AIIEA has have met 355 MPs. In Madurai, more than 1400 people participated in our State Convention. When the GIBNA act was introduced, opposition parties united to send the bill to a select committee. But the BJP called in marshals to physically beat up the opposition. BJP has no faith in democracy as is evident from the farm laws and labour codes.
They say that shares of LIC will be given to employees. But LIC is owned by 40 crore policy holders. Assets of LIC are worth more than the GDP of UN countries. This is not the struggle of only LIC policy holders and insurance employees, but of all people. We met BJP MPs too; they have no explanation for supporting the IPO. We asked them why are you losing control of your own wealth? The workers of the country will take this fight forward. We will protect all public sectors—rail, coal, BHEL etc. because the public is the owner.