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It is back to PSU dilution, HZ on chopper
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 10
Four months after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh put all disinvestment plans on hold following stiff opposition from the Left parties and a pull-out threat by the DMK, the Centre proposes to once again dilute its stake in public sector undertakings (PSUs). It plans to test the waters by placing Hindustan Zinc on the chopping block.

In an effort to pre-empt any opposition from the Left parties, the Prime Minister is learnt to have drafted External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee for this specific task. Mr Mukherjee, UPA sources disclosed, has been asked to discuss the matter with the Left parties and then finalise the details of disinvesting in Hindustan Zinc. The Foreign Minister has been handpicked for this job in view of his keen negotiating skills and also because he enjoys an excellent rapport with the Marxists.

UPA sources said the Centre had deliberately chosen Hindustan Zinc to place disinvestment back on its agenda as it does not apprehend any major controversy here as the government only holds residual shares in this PSU. It was pointed out that the Left parties had not raised any objections in the past when the Centre had offloaded its residual shares in Maruti.

Nevertheless, the UPA Government is hoping that this particular case could open the doors for further disinvestment. The Centre is treading carefully this time as it has burnt its fingers already on the issue of disinvestment.

Earlier this year, the UPA Government found itself in a major crisis disinvestment of Neyveli Lignite Corporation.



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