Andhra bandh: State shuts down in protest against ‘raw deal’ in Union budget
The statewide day-long shutdown called on Thursday by opposition parties and indirectly supported by the ruling Telugu Desam Party in Andhra Pradesh to protest the “raw deal” meted out to the state in the Union budget evoked a huge response.
Though the government headed by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu did not directly participate in the protests, it closed down all the government educational institutions and kept the state-run Road Transport Corporation buses off the road across the state.
Government offices, however, remained open but attendance was thin due to lack of transportation facilities, as per initial reports. Only emergency and essential services were spared from the bandh call. In Tirupati, protesters allowed buses carrying pilgrims to Tirumala temple to run.
The opposition parties have been insisting on the special category status to Andhra Pradesh and the TDP has raised its pitch demanding its share in the budget besides fulfilment of assurances promised in the AP Reorganisation Act.
These include funds to make up the revenue deficit caused by the bifurcation, funds for building a new capital at Amaravati, completion of Polavaram multipurpose irrigation project and creation of new railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address in both the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday while replying to the debate on President’s address has also angered the people of Andhra Pradesh. Modi blamed the Congress for the injustice done to the state rather than addressing the concerns, opposition leaders alleged.
The TDP, which is a part of the National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, and the opposition YSR Congress have been protesting in Parliament for the last three days.
YSR Congress party president YS Jaganmohan Reddy took a day’s break from his foot march and is participating in protests in Nellore district.
Director general of police M Malakondaiah said additional forces were deployed to ensure peaceful observance of the bandh. There were no violent incidents and no preventive arrests were made, he added.
Shops, business establishments, private educational institutions, hotels and restaurants voluntarily shut down in support of the bandh. All schools, colleges and universities in different parts of the state also remained closed and deferred scheduled examinations by a day.
Reports of activists belonging to the Left parties, the YSR Congress party, the Congress and Jana Sena Party taking out rallies, blocking roads and staging dharnas were reported from Vijayawada, Guntur, Rajahmundry, Kakinada, Nellore, Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam, Nellore, Tirupati, Chittoor and Kadapa towns.
The TDP’s leaders staged demonstrations in all the block headquarters following a call given by the party leadership.