TDP MP Ramesh ends 10-day hunger strike protesting Centre's move to 'scrap' Kadapa steel plant project
TDP Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh had been on a hunger strike to demand that the Centre set up a steel plant in Andhra Pradesh's Kadapa district.
The Telugu Desam Party's Rajya Sabha MP CM Ramesh, who was on a hunger strike for the past 10 days, broke his fast on Saturday after Andhra Pradesh chief minister and party chief Chandrababu Naidu met him, reports said.
Ramesh was on an indefinite hunger strike, along with party MLC M Ravindranath Reddy, since 20 June. The duo was protesting to pressure the Centre to immediately set up a steel plant in Kadapa district as per the provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014.
While Ramesh broke his fast on Saturday, Reddy was forcefully shifted to the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Kadapa on Wednesday after his health deteriorated.
The matter is the latest flashpoint in a series of issues between the bifurcated state and the Centre. The TDP pulled out of the National Democratic Alliance in March, alleging betrayal after the BJP-led central government refused to give special category status to the Andhra Pradesh.
On the steel plant, TDP maintains that "it is the state's right" and has demanded that the Centre set it up through the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) at any cost. Chief Minister Naidu said the state government had written many letters to the Centre, seeking the establishment of the plant. He said MPs had also raised the issue in Parliament, and that he had personally requested the prime minister and the Union ministers concerned.
However, on 13 June, the Centre, citing SAIL's feasibility report, had told the Supreme Court that it was not "financially viable" to set up the steel plant in the economically-backward region.
Naidu alleged that the Centre was deliberately doing this to favour YSR Congress president YS Jaganmohan Reddy and Karnataka mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy. "If Gali was to set up the plant, it would not have been incorporated in the Reorganisation Act, which clearly states that the plant should be established by SAIL," he said.
TDP MPs had also met Union steel minister Chaudhary Birender Singh in New Delhi on Wednesday, seeking assurance on the establishment of the Kadapa steel plant. "Except that the Centre was positively considering the issue, we did not get any specific assurance on the possible timeline for the steel plant," the MPs told TV channels.
The party has been staging a series of protests to push the Centre to approve the plant. Recently, TDP cadres held bike rallies across the state, and staged dharnas in all 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh.
With inputs from PTI
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