Backing Tamil Nadu government’s offer to buy the five per cent shares in Neyvlei Lignite Corporation that the Centre proposes to disinvest, DMK president M Karunanidhi urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to accept the proposal and treat it as a “public purchase.”
Karunanidhi told Mr Singh in a letter that the Jayalalithaa-led government’s offer had come in the wake of workers’ agitation and “unanimous and stiff opposition,” by all political parties and people in the state.
“Since the Government of Tamil Nadu has now come forward to purchase 5 per cent of shares of NLC, I request you that the Government of India may accept the proposal, and consider the said sales as public purchase and not as institutional purchase,” he said.
The letter, released by the DMK headquarters here, was handed over to the Prime Minister by party’s Parliamentary Party Leader TR Baalu in Delhi on Friday.
Karunanidhi said Rule 19 (7) of Securities Contracts (Regulations) Rules 1967 stated SEBI at its own discretion or on the recommendation of a recognised stock exchange, waive or relax strict enforcement of requirements pertaining to rules.
He sought that in the first place, NLC may be exempted under this provision which will be a “lasting solution” to the ongoing issue. “Or, if it is found that there is no other option, as a last resort, 5 per cent shares may be sold to Government of Tamil Nadu institutions,” he said.
The state government companies (like SIPCOT and TIDCO) were neither promoters nor subsidiaries of NLC, and therefore they may be treated as ‘public’ and NLC shares sold to them, he said.
“If SEBI grants such exemptions, then the issue will be settled and the agitating employees can also be convinced to withdraw their strike,” he said, seeking Singh to “favourably” consider his request with a view to ensuring industrial peace in NLC.
Last month, Ms Jayalalithaa had written to Mr Singh, suggesting that Centre could sell five per cent of its shareholding in NLC to one or more of the state’s PSUs —Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO), State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT) and Tamil Nadu Industrial Investment Corporation (TIIC).
These PSUs came within the ambit of ‘Qualified Institutional Buyers’ and fell under the meaning of “public” defined under relevant SEBI rules, she had said.