Opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh have called for a rally in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam on January 26 to renew their demand for a special category status for the state, invoking massive protests against the ban on Jallikattu at Chennai’s Marina Beach in neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.
They have said the people of Tamil Nadu have displayed unprecedented unity in fighting for Jallikattu, forcing the Centre to climb down to approve an ordinance revoking the ban on the traditional bull-taming game.
They have called for a similar unity among the people of Andhra to fight for its special status and decided to mount similar pressure on the Centre after it yielded to the people’s demand in Tamil Nadu.
The Centre assured a special category status to the state during the passage of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act in February, 2014. The Narendra Modi-led government, however, backtracked on its promise on technical grounds and instead, announced a special financial package in September last year.
While chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu had no option but to accept the special package, opposition parties in the state have been agitating for the status since then.
Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member KVP Ramachandra Rao wrote to Naidu a couple of days ago, stating that the CM should take inspiration from the Tamilians, who have taken the Centre by its horns and got the ordinance approved to allow Jallikattu.
He said the state could not achieve special category status as there was no unity among its people.
“Because we are fighting among ourselves, we have fallen down in the eyes of the Centre. It is time we fight unitedly and bring pressure on the Centre to achieve our demands,” he wrote.
The main opposition YSR Congress party has given a call to the people to participate in a rally at the Ramakrishna Beach on Republic Day to highlight their demand.
“We want this rally to be an eye-opener to the state and central governments. The youth should take part in the programme in a big way to make it a success,” YSR Congress party president YS Jaganmohan Reddy said.
Convener of Andhra Pradesh Prathyeka Hoda Sadhana Samithi, a forum fighting for the special status, Chalasani Srinivas asked Telugu film actors to learn from the Jallikattu incident and take a lead in demanding the special status.
“People of Andhra Pradesh should choose either the Vizag beach or the Krishna River bed to launch people’s protest in achieving the special status,” Srinivas said. “It is time the film heroes showed real heroism,” he said.
The ban against Jallikattu got support from a large number of celebrities from the southern cinema. Actors Ajith Kumar, Suriya, Karthi and Trisha Krishnan were among the first ones to gather at Marina Beach for a day-long fast organised by Nadigar Sangam, the South Indian Artistes Association, to express solidarity with the protesting youngsters.
Veteran actor Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay and Chiyaan Vikram too came out in support of the ongoing protests in the state.
As the protest call started making a buzz on social media, popular Telugu actor-turned-politician Pawan Kalyan has come out in its in support.
“#APDemadsSpecialStatus, If youth of AP are planning to do a silent protest on 26th Jan at RK Beach, Vizag, #Janasena Supports them,” Pawan, who heads Jana Sena, tweeted.
He said the people of Andhra should also display the same spirit for achieving special category status to Andhra Pradesh. “If the political class of Andhra Pradesh had shown this kind of solidarity, the state would have got its promised special category status long back,” he said.