Intensifying the agitation against the privatisation of the Vizag Steel Plant, the trade unions called for an Andhra Pradesh-wide bandh on 5 March. On Tuesday, the Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU) leaders released posters on the state bandh, proposed by the Steel Plant Parirakshana Porata Committee.
Addressing the media, CITU leader, M Subba Rao noted that back in the day, the collective efforts of the local representatives and the public played a crucial role in establishing the steel plant at Vizag. Reminiscing the sacrifices made, Mr Rao said, “As many as 32 persons had lost their lives in the struggle. Over 60 MLAs offered resignation and hundreds of acres were handed over by the people here to set up the plant.” He warned that they would not tolerate, if the Centre goes ahead with the plan to privatise the VSP.
Earlier on Monday, the left parties extended their support to the Andhra Pradesh bandh to be observed on Friday. In a joint statement, CPI(M) City Secretary, B Ganga Rao, CPI City Secretary, M Pydiraju, and CPI-ML leader, Ganesh Panda urged all sections of people to support the movement.
On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party has decided to refrain from the state bandh. Speaking to media persons, the BJP Rajya Sabha member, GVL Narasimha Rao, said that the government had taken the policy decision to put Vizag Steel Plant on the path of profits by privatising it. Stating that privatisation is a long process and would not happen immediately, he assured that the Central Government will take the final decision only after considering the interests of the institution and employees.
Earlier on 26 February, the Vizag Steel Plant Parirakshana Committee held a statewide rasta roko, expressing solidarity with the agitation. In wake of the call, hundreds of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant employees and supporters joined the agitation on Friday morning. The rasta roko, which was began at 11 AM, concluded at 1 PM. Holding black flags, the protesters raised slogans of “Save Steel Plant” and “Visakha Ukku, Andhrula Hakku” and staged a road blockade on the National Highway, at the VSP gate in Kurmannapalem.