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Bye bye reforms: All divestment put on hold
New Delhi, Jul 6 (PTI) In a move that may spell further setback to the disinvestment process, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today put on hold all divestment decisions and proposals, including sale of shares in NALCO and NLC, after crucial ally DMK threatened to withdraw support to the UPA government on Neyveli shares.

"There have been representations from some of the constituents and allies of the UPA about the process of disinvestment in some public sector enterprises.

"Taking into account their concerns, the Prime Minister has decided to keep all disinvestment decisions and proposals on hold pending further review," PM's Media Adviser Sanjaya Baru said in a statement, shortly after DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi said in Chennai that his party was reconsidering its continuance in the Centre.

This is the second major disinvestment decision that has been put on hold by the government. Last year under severe criticism and threats by the Left parties, the government kept on hold its decision to divest 10 per cent of shares in public sector BHEL.

The Left parties, which provide critical support of over 60 MPs to the government, had strongly opposed the two divestment decisions. The Left parties have welcomed the Prime Minister's decision. They said there was no threat to the government.

Karunanidhi, who has strongly opposed the decision to divest 10 per cent of government equity in profit earning Tamil Nadu-based public sector unit Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC), told reporters "when the Union Government is not in a position to accept the demand of the workers, the DMK is thinking whether to continue in the Union Government and be a party to the decision." "I have instructed our (DMK) Union Ministers to inform this stand to the Prime Minister," he said.

DMK, which has 16 MPs, heads the Democratic Progressive Alliance in Tamil Nadu of which Congress is a part. PMK, the other DPA constituent, has six MPs while the CPI and CPI(M) have two each from the state.

Karunanidhi's confidante and Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, accompanied by another party representative in the Cabinet A Raja, met the Prime Minister and conveyed his party's stand on the NLC issue.

The NLC issue has become a major political controversy in the state with the opposition AIADMK and trade unions planning a major agitation on the issue. DMK's Labour Progressive Front is in the forefront of the agitation as it is the only recognised union in the NLC.

The DMK had initially demanded sale of the proposed divesting of shares to employees and later calibrated its stand to totally opposing it following the political controversy in the state.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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