The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has called for a strike on Monday in Andhra Pradesh against the denial of permission by the Maharashtra government to its leaders to visit the Babli project on Godavari river that the party says will deprive Andhra farmers of water.
"We have given a call for hartal (strike). They (Maharashtra government) should allow us to visit Babli and 13 other projects along with the media," TDP MP Nama Nageswar Rao told IANS over telephone.
Rao, who was Saturday sent to two-day judicial custody in Nanded district of Maharashtra along with party chief N Chandrababu Naidu, said that they had decided not to seek bail as they had not committed any crime.
He said the party leaders had entered Maharashtra after they were given an assurance by police that the senior party leaders will be taken to Babli project.
"They told us that only leaders will be allowed," he said.
Rao, who is leader of the TDP parliamentary party, said they wanted to see Babli project ahead of the July 23 meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh concerning the controversial project. An all-party delegation from Andhra Pradesh is expected to meet the prime minister on July 23.
The TDP leader denied Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan's allegations that his party's yatra was aimed at political gains - a reference to the 12 assembly by-elections in Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh July 27.
"This is totally wrong. When we came to Delhi (last month to meet Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal) no by-election had been announced. The protest against the project has not started today," Rao said, adding that the project "will impact Telangana directly and affect irrigation in 18 lakh acres in the region".
He said that the people in the state were already observing hartal (strike) over the denial of permission to party leaders to visit the Babli project.
Rao said that the party leaders sent to judicial custody will not seek bail as they had not done anything wrong.
He said that the the leaders including MPs, legislators and members of legislative council were not treated properly by the Maharashtra officials.
The TDP leader said that initially there was one bathroom for the party leaders taken into custody and they had to suffer power cuts.
Naidu and his party colleagues were on Saturday sent to judicial custody for two days by a magistrate in Dharmabad town of Nanded district in Maharashtra.
The TDP leaders, who were arrested Friday for trying to enter the state despite ban orders, are likely to be kept at Dharmabad Industrial Training Institute (ITI) till July 19.
Police have refused to allow Naidu and other leaders to visit the Babli project being built by Maharashtra across Godavari River.