The 100% strategic sale of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) is not a local issue pertaining to this city. It is a national issue that highlights the BJP-led Union government’s adverse policy towards Central PSUs and its favouring the private sector, said the national general secretary of SFI Mayukh Biswas.
He was addressing the public after an impressive rally led by over 4,000 students from various colleges such as AVN College, Andhra Medical College, Andhra University and various other private colleges here on Monday. The rally was taken out from Mrs. AVN College to the Old Post Office.
The rally was organised under the aegis of the Visakha Ukku Parirakshana Porata Committee, to honour the 11 people who were killed in police firing on November 1, 1967, during the protest for the setting up of the steel plant in Visakhapatnam.
“The steel plant had come up after much struggle and sacrifices and it is emotionally rooted to the people of Andhra. This cannot be privatised just like that. We will make this a national issue and bring the students from across the country to protest against the decision. It is now going to be a national movement and will stand as an example against the privatisation policy of the BJP government,” said Vicky Maheswari, national general secretary of AISF.
Both Mayukh and Vicky were of the same opinion that VSP needs to be looked at as a larger picture and the struggle should be the focal point against the privatisation policy.
“It is not just a fight against the privatisation of one PSU, but against unemployment and the loss of jobs, post privatisation,” said Mr. Mayukh.
According to Mr. Vicky, the privatisation of VSP, will not only impact the lives of the employees but the entire city, as many families are indirectly dependent on the well-being of the steel plant. Every family in the city has some connection with the plant, he said.
Earlier, Kolla Rajmohan, who had then actively participated in the agitation, as the president of the Andhra Medical College Student Union, said that it was a student-led movement and the response was spontaneous. Even then employment was the focal point, as young students aspired to get a job once the steel plant was established, said Dr. Rajmohan. He urged the young students to replicate the same intensity with which the students had then come forward.
All the three chairmen of the Porata Committee such as Ch. Narasinga Rao, Mantri Rajasekhar and Ch. Adinarayana, spoke about the sacrifices made by the people and how the agitation had spread across the State.
Not only in Visakhapatnam, about 20 others had lost their lives in police firing across various other places such as Guntur, Vijayawada, Warangal and Rajahmundry, immediately after the firing in Visakhapatnam, pointed out Mr. Adinarayana.
Mr. Narasinga Rao said that the present struggle was an apolitical movement and all political parties can join in.
“In 1967, leaders from various political parties had come under one roof to take the movement forward and we are hoping that the same would be the case now. But unfortunately, many of the major parties are towing different lines and making it a political issue. This would weaken the struggle,” he said.
Most of the students who participated in the rally were unaware of the student movement. But after coming to know about it they looked a lot more motivated.
“It is only today, I had come to know that the students of our college had played a stellar role in the then agitation and a bright student of our college Rajnala Pranakusha Das, was one of the martyrs in the police firing of 1967. It makes us feel proud that we are from the same college,” said Prasad, a student from the Mrs. AVN College.