BJP MP Anant Kumar Hegde has called officials of BSNL "traitors" who were "not ready to work" as he slammed "poor" network of the state-owned telecom operator in parts of Karnataka.
In remarks made at a public meeting in Kumta in Uttara Kannada district on Monday, a video of which has gone viral, Mr Hegde claimed there was so much of "idleness" in BSNL and it had been decided to remove 85,000 employees as disinvestment was the only way to set it right.
"It (BSNL) is a system, which is full of traitors... People know how the BSNL network is. It is still better in Uttara Kannada but in Bengaluru you will not get the network at all. The entire BSNL is a disgrace for the country," the MP, known for making controversial remarks, was heard saying.
Recalling that he had scolded BSNL officials during a recent meeting in Karwar in Uttara Kannada district, his native, the former union minister said he told them "You are not just government officials but anti-nationals too."
The MP said the BSNL was a "disgrace" to the country. "We are finishing it off through divestment and are allowing the private players to take over the space," Mr Hegde said.
Mr Hegde said there was "lethargy" in the BSNL which no one could set right, not even the present dispensation.
"Government has given you funds. People are in need. Infrastructure is ready but they are not ready to work. There isn't shortage of anything. The PM speaks of Digital India, we are ready to provide infrastructure, technology and funds, but they are not ready to work. There is so much idleness there," he alleged.
"It has been decided to remove 85,000 employees in the entire country. There may be a requirement to remove some more. Whatever is needed, we will do. We will do a major surgery to set the BSNL right and privatise it. There is no other alternative," he is heard saying in the video.
According to the MP, there are only two institutions which have "ditched" the country. One was BSNL and another Air India.
Mr Hegde, a six-time Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada, had in February this year stoked a huge controversy when he termed the freedom struggle led by Mahatma Gandhi as an "adjustment" with the British.
As the remarks were condemned by the Congress, BJP asked him to tender a public apology.
In December 2017, when he was the Union minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Mr Hegde had mocked secularists with his remark that they are unaware of their parentage.
He had also said the country's Constitution would be changed and been booked in the past for his "hate speeches", including one where he allegedly equated Islam with terrorism. Mr Hegde had also stated that the politicians were not public servants.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)