Pawan Kalyan joins strike against Vizag steel plant privatisation

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Tollywood actor and Jana Sena Party president Pawan Kalyan will on Sunday join the ongoing agitation by the workers of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), against the Central government’s decision to privatise it.

Pawan Kalyan will address a rally of the steel plant workers under the banner of Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee (Committee to fight for protection of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant) at the steel plant entrance near Kurmannapalem junction at around 2 pm.

Though the Visakhapatnam police initially denied permission for the meeting on the grounds of law and order, they later consented following protests by the Jana Sena Party activists, who said it was not a political meeting, but was meant only for expressing solidarity with the striking steel plant workers.

In January this year, the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) under the Union ministry of finance announced 100 per cent disinvestment in RINL through privatisation because of the accumulated losses to the extent of 20,000 crore.

Since then, the steel plant workers have been agitating against the move and stepped it up after the DIPAM in July invited proposals for the engagement of transaction advisors and legal advisors to complete the disinvestment and later called for expression of interest from various bidders.

Barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), all the opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh have been strongly opposing the move to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. Even Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government adopted a resolution in the state assembly requesting the Centre to drop the move because of people’s sentiment while suggesting various measures to revive the steel plant.

Since the Jana Sena Party has been a political ally of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh, it did not actively participate in the anti-privatisation agitation initially, though Pawan Kalyan made a representation to the BJP leadership in Delhi to reconsider the move.

However, in the recent past, relations between the Jana Sena Party and the BJP have strained with both taking independent stance against the Jagan Mohan Reddy government on various issues.

Against this backdrop, Pawan Kalyan participation in the agitation is seen as yet another indication of the differences between the alliance partners.

“Yes, Jana Sena and the BJP are allies, but the alliance is confined only to the elections. We do have our own independent political ideologies and strategies. The BJP cannot expect that we blindly support their decisions. We cannot nod our heads to whatever they do,” Jana Sena Party state general secretary T Shiva Shankar Rao told reporters on Friday.

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He said Jana Sena Party would strongly oppose the BJP’s stand on the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant privatisation.

Meanwhile, retired IPS officer and former joint director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) V V Lakshminarayana, who contested on the Jana Sena ticket from Visakhapatnam in the 2019 general elections, complimented Pawan Kalyan for taking up the agitation in support of steel plant workers against privatisation.

“Glad to know that Sri Pawan Kalyan garu is expressing solidarity with the people fighting against the privatisation of Vizag Steel Plant. Hope this will certainly influence government of India to change their decision. #savevizagsteelplant,” the former JD tweeted.

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