The decision to privatize the Vizag Steel Plant in Andhra Pradesh has led to massive protests across the state. Historically, the steel plant has been a representation of Telugu resilience and a symbol of Telugu pride. Following the proposal of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs to privatize the Vizag Steel Plant protests and rallies were held in the city.
Joining the people’s movement, former MLA and TDP leader Palla Srinivas Rao has been on an indefinite hunger strike for the last seven days. A medical team who examined him have raised concern regarding his health and falling blood sugar levels. The team of medical experts has also cautioned that Rao’s health may deteriorate and there are chances that continuing the hunger strike may affect his kidneys.
The National General Secretary of TDP, Nara Lokesh visited the indefinite hunger strike camp and Palla Srinivas on Sunday to express his solidarity. He questioned the YSRCP government about its inability to protect the Vizag Steel Plant. He also added that despite having 22 MPs, the government has been unable to convey the people’s sentiment regarding the issue. Nara Lokesh said that the struggle would continue until the Centre does not release a statement to stop the disinvestment.
The hunger strike and protests have also found support from parties. CPI leader K Narayana met Palla Srinivas and offered support to the movement. The leader also said that the privatization of the steel plant must not happen at any cost. The steel plant was established after a hard-fought struggle of the people of Andhra Pradesh.
The movement in 1966 under the slogan of ‘Visakha Ukku, Andhrula Hakku’ resulted in 32 people laying down their lives in the struggle, including students and workers. Chief Minister Reddy has so far been unable to strongly communicate the needs of the people to the Centre. However, he had written a letter to the Prime Minister four days after the news broke out. The letter requested the Prime Minister to reconsider the disinvestment.
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