Updated: March 11, 2021 3:44:47 am
UNDER PRESSURE from political parties and various organisations that have been protesting against the move to privatise the Vizag Steel Plant in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has sought a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge him to reconsider the decision.
In a letter to the Prime Minister on Tuesday, the Chief Minister sought an appointment to meet an all-party delegation he wants to take to New Delhi to discuss the issue.
“The CM is very clear that Vizag Steel should not be privatised under any circumstances. He has appealed to the PM for an appointment to meet and discuss directly with political leaders and representatives of trade and workers’ unions. He also wants to discuss other options available to put the steel plant back on track,” said Government Advisor (Public Affairs) Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy on Wednesday.
The Prime Minister’s Office is yet to respond to the request.
The Vizag Steel Plant provides direct employment to more than 20,000 people, and indirect employment to another 30,000 people. It has spurred an ancillary industry ecosystem around it in which thousands more are employed.
The proposal to privatise the steel plant has given ammunition to opposition parties in the state, which are accusing the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) of not resisting the move strongly enough.
“Vizag Steel plant is the soul of Visakhapatnam. It provides employment to thousands of people. The CM should take on the Centre strongly and stop the privatisation. Instead, YSRCP leaders appear to have already given up,” said TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu.
The TDP has been putting pressure on the government after its MLA from Visakhapatnam (North) G Srinivasa Rao resigned in protest. “Resignations are the only way to put pressure. I wonder why none of the ruling party MLAs or MPs have resigned. Before YSRCP came to power, Jagan Mohan Reddy, several MLAs and MPs resigned over special category status. They said resignations were a way of forcing the Centre to consider the state’s demands. Why can’t they do the same now? Ruling party MPs and ministers need to resign and join the protests if they want to put pressure on the Centre and force a rollback,’’ Rao said.
Jana Sena Party chief K Pawan Kalyan said the 22 YSRCP MPs have failing in raising the issue strongly in Parliament. “Instead of raising the issue strongly in Parliament, YSRCP MPs and leaders appear to be giving feeble statements against privatisation of Vizag Steel for votes in the municipal corporation election,” said the actor-turned-politician, whose party is in alliance with the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. Jana Sena has formed an alliance with BJP in AP.
BJP state unit chief Somu Verraraju said he has requested the Centre to reconsider the proposal. The party, however, has stayed away from the protests.
CPI national secretary K Narayana said, “The CM must clearly spell out whether he wants to save the steel plant or not. It seems YSRCP is not doing enough to stop this privatisation.’’
Trade Union leaders said the agitation will intensify in the coming days if the Centre does not roll back the decision. CITU president J Ayodhya Ramu said the Centre intends to sell the steel plant at a throwaway price. “We will fight tooth and nail and not allow it to happen,’’ he said, adding that they will block NH-16 (Kolkata-Visakhapatnam-Chennai) indefinitely if the Centre does not act soon.