Anantapur: A report by international new agency Reuters about South Korean auto major Kia Motors planning to shift its manufacturing facility currently located in Penukonda, Ananta-pur district, to neighbouring Tamil Nadu created ripples in Andhra Prad-esh political and industrial circles, but going by official clarifications that followed, seems to be a case of a false alarm.
Officials and representatives from the state government, Kia Motors, besides the Tamil Nadu government, denied media reports on shifting of the facility even as the opposition led by Telugu Desam (TD) launched a scathing attack against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy for what they described as “a retrogressive approach, driving away industry”.
The TD, which has been trying to make the CM’s decision to relocate the executive capital to Visa-khapatnam a national issue, raised the now contested news of the shifting of Kia, in parliament.
Telugu Desam MPs, who wanted the Central government to intervene in the three capitals issue, raised a similar demand on Thursday, sought to know “what the central government would do when multinational companies were subjected to harassment”.
The YSRC government has been on a fire-fighting exercise since the morning when the news of Kia shifting first broke out.
Rajat Bhargav, special chief secrev2tary, industries, who is currently in Lucknow participating in the defence expo, issued a statement that both the AP government and Kia Motors deny the reports of shifting.
Later, he spoke to his Tamil Nadu counterpart, and came up with another statement by evening, in which Mr Bhargav said stated that the TN principal secretary, industries, had conveyed to him that they were not in talks with Kia Motors and there were no discussions between them in this regard.
“Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu enjoy cordial relations,” said Mr Bhargav.
Kia Motors, which denied any plans to shift the plant from AP to Tamil Nadu in the news report of the foreign agency itself, again dismissed the report as “baseless”. Manohar Bhatt, national head of sales and marketing, Kia Motors, said that the news report had “indeed shocked the company”.
According to an official press release from the government, Mr Bhatt called that the news report the “worst form of imagination and concoction”.
“I don’t know who is behind this news,” Mr Bhatt was further quoted by the government press release.
Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath convened a press conference at Amaravati and described the news as “propaganda, aimed at tarnishing the state’s image”.
YCP Parliamentary Party leader V. Vijaya Sai Reddy also tweeted against the news report.
Meanwhile, former chief minister and TD chief N. Chandrababu Naidu came down heavily on Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, saying he was “driving away industry from the state”.
“I had to struggle a lot to bring Kia Motors here. Now the Chief Minister says the incentives promised to them would not be honoured,” Naidu said, adding that the Tamil Nadu government officials confirmed having talks with Kia.
Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan too joined the issue, saying that there is every reason to believe the report, as it came from Reuters, a world renowned news agency. He said that youth of the state would have to pay heavy price as industry after industry has been leaving the state.