New Delhi: Claiming that the Centre is trying to privatise most of the coal sector "by stealth", Congress on Wednesday said five lakh workers are on the largest strike the industry has seen in four decades but the government is simply "wishing it away".
"They are on strike because of something which is being slipped in among other things again by stealth... This government legislates by stealth, it makes policy surreptitiously," Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.
Taking a dig at the government, he said, "Everything in this country is being done through ordinance these days. We seem to have no Parliament, we seem to have no patience, we seem to have no budget session."
Singhvi replied in the affirmative when asked whether the Congress was against this Coal Mining Amendment legislation.
"Of course we are... First and foremost, forget the merits of amendment, it has not been brought to Parliament, it has not been discussed in Parliament," he said.
"I am not talking of merits yet. It has not been raised in this Parliament... Something which is going on for ages quietly you add something for any purpose," he said.
Noting that the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), which is affiliated to the ruling party, was also supporting the strike, he said the BJP deserves to answer the country whether it is going to seek votes from the corporates or will it seek votes from the BMS in the next state or central elections.
The five-day strike by coal industry workers across the country entered its second day today as negotiations between government officials and trade unions failed late last night.
On its first day, the strike impacted 75 per cent of the 1.5 million tonnes of daily coal production, while fuel supplies to nearly 100 power plants across the country may also be impacted if the impasse continues.
The new ordinance changes The Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 to permit private mining for any purpose not limited to captive industrial use only, he added.