Bengaluru: The BJP MP from Uttara Kannada, Anantkumar Hegde has stirred up a controversy by terming employees of state-owned telecom giant BSNL “anti-nationals”.
A video clip of the MP, addressing a public meeting in Uttara Kannada’s Kumta Monday, shows him saying that BSNL is filled with “deshdrohis (traitors)”.
“Let me tell you, I am using the right words to describe them,” Hegde says before going on to insist that the Public Sector Unit (PSU) has become a “black spot” for the nation and that the Narendra Modi government is all set to bring in private players to take over the firm.
He adds that there are over 88,000 employees working with BSNL and yet the PSU has done nothing to improve the quality of its network.
“Can you imagine, even our government could not bring about order in the PSU,” Hegde says in the video.
‘Will remove all 88,000 BSNL employees’
The leader claims that he pulled up several of the BSNL officials in a meeting in Karwar recently where he reiterated the point of calling them traitors.
“In this area (Uttara Kannada) you can at least get some mobile coverage but in places like Bengaluru you don’t get connectivity at all,” he says. “There are people working in the organisation, it has infrastructure, advanced technology is also available but the employees are not ready to work.”
The MP says that there is a lot of money that is pumped into the sector as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a digital India.
“In the coming days we will be removing all 88,000 employees and there could be more such developments,” Hegde says. “It would be like a major surgery. We have made up our mind to privatise BSNL and bring it back to order.”
The Print reached Hegde through phone calls and messages for a comment, but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
Karnataka BJP backs MP
The Karnataka BJP is standing firmly behind the MP. Party spokesperson S. Prakash told ThePrint that Hegde was only stating the facts.
“His comment was only about the inefficiency in BSNL. 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,” Prakash told ThePrint.
On the issue of sacking 88,000 employees, the BJP spokesperson said that 75,000-80,000 BSNL employees have taken voluntary retirement and that is what the MP was referring to.
“He is not the minister in charge of deciding what will happen to BSNL. It is up to the Centre,” Prakash said.
A rabble-rouser with a penchant for controversy
Hegde has a history of conjuring up controversies. In December 2017, he claimed that the BJP government was in power to change the Constitution. Hegde was then a Union minister.
Months earlier, in October 2017, Hegde asked the Karnataka government to keep him out of the Tipu Sultan Jayanti as he believed the Muslim ruler was a “brutal killer, wretched fanatic and mass rapist”.
In January 2019, the MP said that the Kerala government’s handling of protests, against the entry of women into the Sabarimala shrine, was akin to “daylight rape of Hindus”.
Hegde has even attacked Mahatma Gandhi, describing the Gandhi-led freedom struggle as “drama” and claiming that it was “staged with the consent and support of the British”.
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