‘Go back Modi,’ say Vizag steel plant workers ahead of PM’s visit

Employees and workers, who have been protesting against the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant’s privatisation for nearly two years now, have stepped up their agitation ahead of PM Modi’s visit on November 11.
Vizag steel plant workers protest privatisation ahead of PM Modi’s visit
Vizag steel plant workers protest privatisation ahead of PM Modi’s visit
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Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Visakhapatnam on November 11, employees of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant staged a protest on Wednesday, November 9, demanding that the Union government revoke its decision to privatise the steel plant. Ever since the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs (CCEA) gave in-principle approval for 100% disinvestment of the steel plant in January 2021, employees and workers have held periodic protests. On November 9, protesters gathered in large numbers, raising slogans such as “Go Back Modi”, and “This is a regime of thieves and exploitation.” Many of them held placards that said “Modi ji, Stop Vizag Steel Plant Sale.” Police personnel were deployed to restrain the protesters. 

Over the past year, the movement against privatising the steel plant has become associated with the state’s pride, with the slogan “Visakha Ukku Andhrula Hakku” (Visakha steel is the right of the people of Andhra) regaining prominence. After continued pressure from the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Samithi comprising steel plant workers and employees, and opposition parties, the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) also came out in support of the protests. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has urged PM Modi to reconsider the move on multiple occasions, and suggested various measures to revive the plant’s fortunes instead. The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), however, has accused YSRCP of not putting pressure on the Union government to stall the plant’s privatisation. The Andhra Pradesh unit of the BJP too had requested the Union government to reconsider the move. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Visakhapatnam on November 11 to inaugurate and lay the foundations of various developmental and infrastructure projects. He is also likely to address a public meeting in the city on the same day. The Chief Minister and Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan will participate in various programmes along with the Prime Minister. 

Watch TNM’s Explainer on the controversy over Vizag Steel Plant

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