Steel plant privatisation: State BJP leaders will apprise Centre of the public sentiment, says Purandeswari

The sentiments of the people of Visakhapatnam will be taken to the notice of the Centre by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders of Visakhapatnam and the State on the need to continue Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP) in the public sector, BJP national general secretary D. Purandeswari has said.

Addressing a media conference here on Sunday, Ms. Purandeswari said that the BJP leaders would make all out efforts to convince the Prime Minister, but the final say in the matter rests with the Union government. She, however, evaded a direct reply on why the party leadership had failed to impress on the Centre on the need to avoid privatisation of VSP, before a decision was taken on it.

The BJP always had a soft corner for VSP, when Atal Behari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister, he had infused ₹1,300 crore into the VSP to prevent it from being referred to the Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) and thus gave it a new lease of life, she said.

She also parried questions on whether she would resign to her party post, if the Centre failed to withdraw its decision. Asked whether the decision on the VSP would affect the BJP, which was trying to strengthen its position in the State, she said: “BJP has never worked for political gains. It works for the nation.” On party leader Sujana Chowdhary reportedly talking in a different tone on the VSP issue, she said the crux of the matter is the same and the State leadership is opposed to the privatisation.

‘No raw deal in Budget’

Refuting the criticism that the State was given a raw deal in the Budget, Ms. Purandeswari gave details of the allocations made to the State. An amount of ₹29,137 crore was allocated for the construction of 2,300 km roads through 84 projects. As many as 16 new railway lines, covering 1,915 km, would be laid in the State at an estimated cost of ₹24,300 crore and over ₹40 crore would be spent on doubling of lines in the State.

The other allocations made to the State include ₹9,770 crore for improvement of health infrastructure, ₹150 crore to provide uninterrupted power supply and to take up works to minimise damages during natural calamities, ₹2,057 crore for ‘Jal Jeevan’ mission to provide piped drinking water and ₹1,161 crore to provide roads in rural areas.

Special Category Status

On the Centre’s failure to give Special Category Status (SCS) to the State, she blamed the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government for agreeing to the special package in lieu of SCS. On the delay in taking up work on the new railway zone with headquarters in Visakhapatnam, she said the Detailed Project Report (DPR) was being examined.

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