As many as 67 Opposition MLAs from Andhra Pradesh created a history of sorts in 1966 when the entire lot resigned from the House protesting the central government's antipathy in locating the Nation's fifth steel plant at Visakhapatnam.

Vizag as it was called, emerged as a strong contender for the plant following a study report submitted by an Anglo-American consortium that felt the port city would be an eminently suitable place to set up the public sector steel plant.

But there was a tough competition among southern states for the plant. While AICC president Kamaraj Nadar was trying to take it to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka chief minister Nijalingappa was batting for Karnataka. Odisha also pitched in, pressurising the centre for the steel plant to be set up in the state.

Curiously, Telugu Congress stalwart Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was the union steel minister. Still, he was not fighting for Andhra as his arch-rival Kasu Brahmananda Reddy was the chief minister of the state.

The apparent reason for his inaction was the fear that any decision in favour of Andhra would make Kasu a hero. In fact, Andhra Pradesh, way back in July 1965 itself, unanimously adopted a resolution urging the centre to locate the much talked about steel plant at Vizag during the fourth Five-year Plan period.

Chief minister Kasu used to allege that Sanjeeva Reddy was harming the interests of Andhra with an ulterior motive.

The proposed steel plant created enormous euphoria among the youth and the people as it was set to boost the employment opportunities in thousands for the youth of Andhra Pradesh, which did not have any major industry worth its name.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, however, addressing a press conference in Hyderabad, ruled out setting up of steel plant in fourth Five-year plan period.

This infuriated the youth and the people, who thought it was the factional feud between two Reddys giants, Neelam and Kasu that militated against their aspirations.

The state was thoroughly disappointed. Amid this backdrop, igniting a spark for unprecedented agitation across the state, T Amrutarao of Gandhi Mission from Guntur sat on fast unto death for the steel plant on October 5, 1966. In a matter of days, the agitation engulfed the state. Two MLAs, including Owaisi of MIM, were arrested. At many places, police resorted to firing in which 32 people were killed.

The protest against the police killings reverberated in the Assembly. All opposition parties moved a no-confidence motion against Kasu government on November 17, 1966. Communist stalwart Tarimela Nagireddy initiated the debate in the House. Members Pillamarri Venkateswarlu (CPI), Tenneti Viswantham (National Democrat), Gouthu Latchanna (Swatantra Party) Vavilala Gopala Krishnaiah (Independent), TKR Sarma (SSP) spoke and excoriated the Congress governments both at the centre and the state for the violence in agitation and disinclination to set up the steel plant at Vizag.

They demanded the resignation of chief minister Kasu Brahmananda Reddy who rubbished it. The confidence motion fell through, which forced 67 members from the opposition benches (CPI 30, CPM 21, 8 Swatantra, 2 National Democrats, 1 SSP and 5 independents) to tender resignations to the speaker.

Names of MLA who resigned for the sake of Vizag Steel Plant:

From CPI: Pillalamarri Venkateswarlu (Nandigama), Vemulapalli Srikrishna( Mangalagiri),K Nagaiah (Guntur 1), P Koteswara Rao ( Peddakakani), JLN Chaudary (Chirala), PV Sivaiah (Vinukonda), P Ranganayakulu ( Addanki), Vellanki Visweswara Rao(Mylavaram), Myneni Lakshmana Swamy ( Kankipadu), Vanka Satyannarayana ( Penugonda), A Sarveswara Rao ( Eluru), P Shyama Sundara Rao ( Achenta), K Baburao ( Polavaram), P Panasa Ramanna ( Anaparthy), K Govindarao( Anakapalli ( PV Ramana( Kondakarla), Swarna Vemaiah (Buchireddypalem SC), K Guruswamy Reddy (Kanigiri), Arutla Ramachandra Reddy (Bhongir), Dharma Bhiksham (Nalgonda), K Ramachandra Reddy ( Ramannapeta), K Parvata Reddy ( Peddavura), Y Peddaiah (Devarakonda), Vithal Reddy ( Narsapur), NPV Mohanrao (Ghanpur), N Giriprasad( Khammam), Mohmad Tehsil (Bhadrachalam), Pula Subbaiah (Erragondapalem), Smt Arutla Kamala Devi ( Alair ), Smt K Ananda Devi (Medak)

From CPM: Tarimela Nagireddy ( Putluru), Puchchalapalli Sundaraiah ( Gannavaram), Gunturu Bapanaiah ( Nidumolu), Tammina Potaraju (Vijayawada North), Mande Pitchaiah (Payakaraopeta SC), S R Datla (Attili), Ganji Ramarao( Gudiwada SC), Koratala Satyannarayana ( Repalle), Evuri Subbarao (Kuchinapudi), Kommineni Venkateswarlu( Bapatla), Naraharisetty Venkataswamy (Parchuru), Sudanagunta Singaiah ( Ammanbrolu), Tavanam Chenchaiah (Santanutalapadu SC), AP Vajravelu Setty( Kuppam), CK Adinayarayana Reddy (Pileru), KL Narasimha Rao( Yellandu), Parsa Satyannarayana( Palvancha), Kangala Butchaiah (Burgampahad), A Venkateswarlu (Narsampet), K Raghavulu, Uppala Malchur( Suryapet SC), Nandyala Srinivasa Reddy (Nakirekal), D Seetaramaiah (Madanapalle)

From Swatantra Party: Gouthu Latchanna (Sompeta), P Rajagopala Naidu (Tavanam Palle), YC Veerabhadra Goud (Yemmiganur), S Appala Naidu (Golugonda), P Narayana Reddy ( Mydukuru), S Penchalaiah ( Koduru SC), CD Naidu (Chittoor), Mutyala Valasa Patrudu

National Democrats: Tennenti Viswanatham (Madugula), Mudragada Veeraraghavarao (Prathipadu).

Others : TRK Sarma (SSP Kurnool), Dr BVL Narayana(Ind. Ongole), Vavilala Gopalakrishnaiah (Ind. Sattenapalli ).

The salient feature of politics is the unpredictability. In the general election in 1967, that ensued the resignations and agitation across the state, Communists lost ground in Andhra irretrievably. Despite factional fights, Congress emerged victorious with renewed vigour. In 1971 Prime Minster Indira Gandhi laid the foundation for the steel plant.

Jinka Nagaraju

Jinka Nagaraju is a Hyderabad based journalist. He covered the entire spectrum of political activities of Telugu states from Hyderabad and New Delhi for about 3 decades. He represented Vaartha in New Delhi during the most happening decade of 1996-2006. He was the political correspondent of Times of India from Hyderabad for 10 years. He was editor of Asianet's Telugu digital platform.

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