Telangana’s proposed bid for Vizag Plant generates political heat in Telugu states

In a move that sparked political heat in both the Telugu states, the Telangana government intends to submit an expression of interest (EoI) for the acquisition of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, commonly referred to as Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), located in Andhra Pradesh.

The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government is planning to bid for the VSP through its Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL).

The Telangana government enjoys a majority stake in SCCL of 51 per cent while the Centre holds the remaining 49 per cent.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has reportedly instructed a few officials from the government as well as the SCCL to visit the VSP and prepare a blueprint. The last date for submitting bids for VSP is on April 15.

The move has triggered a row in both the Telugu states. While Andhra Pradesh’s YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government came under attack from opposition parties for doing nothing to stop privatisation of the VSP, opposition in Telangana questioned KCR government’s move to use funds of Telangana in another state.

Telangana BJP President Bandi Sanjay Kumar alleged that BRS set aside core ideals of Telangana for KCR’s “selfish political interests”. “Telangana State money will be used for Andhra Pradesh’s steel plant,” he remarked.

Andhra Pradesh Industry Minister Gudivada Amarnath, however, maintained that YSRCP is opposed to privatisation. “There is no official statement from the Telangana government. We have seen only speculations in the media,” he said.

BRS leaders, on the other hand, defended the move. “When Gujarat MDC bid and get mines in Odisha, why can’t Telangana bid for Vizag Steel Plant for which even Telangana people lost lives fighting for,” asked BRS leader Krishank Manne, who is also Chairman of Telangana State Mineral Development Corporation (TSMDC).

Apart from the SCCL, the TSMDC is also likely to submit EoI for VSP.

“Vizag Steel Plant, Bayyaram are not encouraged only for the benefit of Modi+Adani+Posco,” he tweeted.

This is said to be the first time a state-run company will place bids to secure a PSU in a neighbouring state.

The move is also expected to politically benefit KCR’s party, which recently changed itself to the BRS from the TRS to expand pan-India.

BRS Working President and KCR’s son K.T. Rama Rao had last week written to the Centre opposing its move to privatise the VSP.

Reacting to KTR’s letter, former joint director of the CBI, V. V. Lakshminarayana had suggested that either Andhra Pradesh or Telangana government should submit the EoI for VSP.

The BRS had also organised a ‘Maha Dharna’ on April 8 to protest against the Centre’s decision to auction SCCL coal mines. The protest was organised during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Hyderabad.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) national Secretary K. Narayana on Monday welcomed Telangana’s interest in VSP.

He said that if VSP goes into the hands of private companies like Adani Group, it would be a great loss to the country and appreciated KCR’s decision to take over the PSU.

CPI’s Andhra Pradesh Secretary Ramakrishna questioned the silence of Jagan Mohan Reddy government over VSP’s privatisation when Telangana government is trying to acquire the plant.

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