Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday said that his government encourages private sector investment instead of setting up new Public Sector Units (PSUs) as it "does not subscribe to socialism".
Opposition Congress sought to know if the chief minister wants to amend the Constitution as its preamble says India is a socialist country. Replying to a query by Congress MLA Abdul Batin Khandakar during the Question Hour in the Assembly, Sarma said that the government has no intention to run companies, especially loss-making ones.
"The government's job is in the field of law and order, health, education, roads and other welfare areas. We don't want to set up companies, but encourage private investments," he said. He also emphasised that the Union government has also moved away from running companies as it is not "socialist".
"Setting up PSUs is socialism and we are not (socialists). After forming a company, a humanitarian crisis evolves if it makes losses. Our IAS officers are not competent to run a company. They are not industrialists. Instead, we want to create an atmosphere of investment," Sarma said.
On this statement, the opposition protested saying that the preamble of the Constitution says that India is a socialist country. The Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia asked if the chief minister does not subscribe to the ideals of the Constitution and whether he wants it to be amended.
"Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had introduced the word socialism in our Constitution. We do not subscribe to the socialism of Karl Marx, Lenin and Stalin. Socialism is a matter of interpretation," Sarma said, leading to a noisy scene in the House.
Earlier, Public Enterprises Department Minister Bimal Bora said Assam has 41 PSUs, of which 17 were declared closed between 2005-06 and 2010-11. Besides, three more PSUs are defunct as of now. "Since the BJP came to power in 2016, around Rs 1 lakh crore investment has come to the state in different sectors," he informed the House.
In a written reply to a separate query by BJP MLA Bidya Sing Engleng, Bora said a total of 86 big industries have been registered in Assam during 2016-21 as per the Secretariat for Industrial Assistance statistics of the central government.
In the five years from 2016, a total of 32,770 micro, small and medium enterprises were registered in the state as per the Central government data, he added.
(With PTI Inputs)