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The enthusiastic response to NTPC Ltd’s two-day offer for sale notwithstanding, the shortfall in the government’s disinvestment target this fiscal year remains vast; nor did it manage to do much on the planned strategic sale front. It is a story that has been repeated almost every year since the turn of the millennium.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s administration was the first to dare touch the verboten issue of privatization. But ultimately, it was unable to do as much as it should have. The substantial improvement in performance of the public sector undertakings (PSUs) that were genuinely privatized meant Vajpayee left behind a legacy of what might have been.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi now faces the same challenge. The policy on selling strategic stakes in PSUs is likely to be contentious, given the issue’s potential as a political football. It would be a pity if this administration fell short like its predecessor.