Agitating Seemandhra electricity employees today called off strike and allowed restoration of transmission and distribution of power in 13 districts of north coastal Andhra region that faces cyclone Phailin threat.
After talks with chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, leaders of Joint Action Committee (JAC) of Seemandhra electricity employees told reporters that they were temporarily suspending the strike on humanitarian grounds.
YSR Congress leader Jagan Reddy being taken into preventive custody by the police in Hyderabad. (TV grab)
One of the leaders R Saibaba said if necessary they would resume the strike to pressurise the Centre to keep the state united.
The chief minister appealed to the employees to end the strike as it was causing severe hardships to people and also in view of the threat to coastal region from severe cyclonic storm in Bay of Bengal.
Meanwhile, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) on Thursday blamed the Congress government for inaction and demanded President’s rule in Andhra Pradesh even as fasting YSR Congress chief Jaganmohan Reddy was force-fed at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) just before noon.
Jagan had been on an indefinite hunger strike against the Telangana decision since October 5. He was taken into preventive custody in Hyderabad and rushed to hospital after his health deteriorated in the morning.
A team of policemen swooped on Jagan's house at around 11pm, demolishing the barricades set up by his supporters around his fast venue, and bodily lifted him before putting him into an ambulance and taking him straight to the hospital.
His fast began to show true political colours on Wednesday after his mother Vijayamma reportedly asked BJP president Rajnath Singh to reconsider his party’s decision to back Andhra Pradesh bifurcation.
Soon after his release from jail, Jagan had praised BJP’s prime minister candidate Narendra Modi and expressed his confidence that he could help BJP change into a secular party.
Political observers feel it could be YSR Congress’ move to get politically closer to the main opposition party after its disillusionment with the Congress following his arrest in the disproportionate assets case.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Thursday said: "GoM on Telangana to submit report as early as possible."
"Justice will be done to Andhra Pradesh," he also added while talking to reporters in New Delhi.
Meanwhile, curfew in violence-hit Vizianagaram town is likely to be relaxed for four hours on Thursday if the situation remained under control.
The relaxation has been in force for two hours in the morning since Wednesday. It may be extended between 2pm to 4pm, DIG (Vizag) P Umapathi said.
The curfew was clamped in Vizianagaram town on Saturday night in the wake of a large-scale violence by anti-bifurcation agitators.
Umapathi said the curfew was being lifted as no fresh violence had been reported since last three days in Vizianagaram town. The curfew was relaxed for two hours last morning also to facilitate people to buy essential commodities.
"In all, 280 people suspected to be involved in the violence have been taken into custody," the DIG said.
Police and paramilitary personnel, including members of the Rapid Action Force deployed in Vizianagaram following violence and arson, are continuing to patrol the city even as normalcy is returning to the town.
A special team with DSP rank officers has been formed to identify a few other culprits, who torched various properties, including those owned by APCC president Botsa Satyanarayana and his family members, police had said.
Striking employees relent, allow power supply
Electricity employees of Seemandhra have called off their five-day strike in view of a cyclone threat.
Though the cyclone is expected to hit the coast between Kalingapatnam and Paradeep in neighboring Odisha, the cyclone warning centre in Visakhapatnam has said north coastal Andhra region comprising Visakhapatnam, Viziayanagaram, Srikakulam and East Godavari districts were in the danger zone.
Some coastal areas are already experiencing heavy to very heavy rain. Cyclone Phailin is expected to cross the coast on Saturday but Friday could see the brewing of a severe cyclonic storm.
“As a humanitarian gesture, we have decided to extend all cooperation to the government in restoration of power supplies,” said a regional convener of Joint Action Committee of electricity workers, N Ganapati on Thursday morning.
“There will be no disruption of power in these districts as also Nellore in south coastal Andhra,” he said.
“We are still on strike. The strike has not been withdrawn as the government has not given any assurance on Untied Andhra Pradesh.
Even though we are not getting salaries, we will cooperate with the government so that the people are not put to any difficulty during the time of an impending natural disaster,” E Babu Rao, deputy chief of the JAC in Seemandhra region told local television channel.
The chief minister, Kiran Kumar had appealed to the striking electricity workers to return to work in view of the cyclone threat to coastal Andhra Pradesh.
Meanwhile, the Centre was mulling imposition of essential services maintenance act (ESMA) to mitigate the sufferings of the common man as also to prevent any disturbance to the southern grid that supplies power to four southern states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
'Sonia responsible for crisis'
Expressing deep anguish over the arbitrary bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Reddy had earlier blamed Congress president Sonia Gandhi for the 'crisis' in the state and accused her of exploiting sentiments of people to pave way for Rahul Gandhi to become the prime minister.
"Sonia Gandhi is responsible for the crisis in the state and she has been playing with the sentiments of the people with the singular motive of seeing to it that her son Rahul Gandhi is made Prime Minister," he said.
He further appealed to Sonia Gandhi to reconsider the decision, as creating a new state would badly affect the future generations of one region.
"The division is arbitrary in nature and does not address all issues that are bound to crop up after the bifurcation," he said.
Meanwhile, the power crisis continues in Seemandhra region as talks between the Andhra Pradesh government and striking non-gazetted employees failed on Wednesday.
GoM meet on Friday
The reconstituted Group of Ministers (GoM) looking into bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh will hold its maiden meeting on Friday. To be chaired by Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, the GoM has not been set any deadline, as against the six-week timeframe envisaged earlier.
The Central government had earlier on Tuesday reorganized the GoM, cutting its strength from 10 to seven ministers.
The members now include Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde, defence minister AK Antony, finance minister P Chidambaram, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Union petroleum and natural gas minister Veerappa Moily and Union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh. Minister of state for personnel V Narayanasamy shall be a special invitee.
On October 3, the Union Cabinet had decided to go ahead with the process for the creation of a separate Telangana state carved out from Andhra Pradesh.Telangana: a never-ending debate
(With inputs from agencies, media reports)