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Andhra parties take a leaf out of Telangana playbook, team up for special status agitation

Poitical parties and social organisation in Andhra Pradesh have formed a Joint Action Committee to demand special status for the state. The TDP has also extended moral support to the committee.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2018 21:14 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Andhra Pradesh,Special category status,Pratyeka Hoda Sadhana Samithi
YSR Congress party members hold placards demanding special status for the state of Andhra Pradesh during the Parliament session in New Delhi last week. (PTI Photo)

Political parties and social organisations in Andhra Pradesh have formed a joint action commitee (JAC), similar to the one that spearheaded the protests for a separate Telengana state, in a bid to transform their crusade for special category status for the state into a major social movement .

The Pratyeka Hoda Sadhana Samithi (Committee to achieve special category status), which held a meeting in Vijayawada on Monday, announced a series of programmes, including blockades, to highlight their demands and prepare people for a long-drawn agitation.

Its plans are reminiscent of the tactical playbook of the Telangana Joint Action Committee, an umbrella of various political parties, students, and industrial workers, that organised a series of agitations bet ween between 2009 and 2014 that ultimately forced the United Progressive Alliance government to grant statehood.

The Andhra JAC comprises of Left parties, Aam Aadmi Party, YSR Congress party, Jana Sena Party, civil society organisations, students and youth organisations.

The Telugu Desam Party, which left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) over the issue, is extending moral support to the JAC but will not be part of it, TDP official spokesman and Member of the Legislative Council Babu Rajendra Prasad said. The TDP will chalk out its own programmes of action for special category status but will extend support to anybody who fights for the rights of the state, he added.

The TDP has been extending support to the YSR Congress in trying to get a no-confidence motion tabled in Parliament. Their attempts that started Friday have been unsuccessful so far due to repeated adjournments over opposition protests.

The JAC, meanwhile, has called for the blockade of all national highways passing through Andhra Pradesh on March 22 between 10 am and 2 pm to highlight the demand for special category status and the implementation of other promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act.

“This is just the beginning. We are going to intensify our stir till the NDA government at the Centre feels the heat of the people’s anger,” JAC leader Chalasani Srinivas said.

Another JAC leader and Telugu actor Shivaji said the next step would be to blockade central government undertakings such as ONGC, Gail and HPCL. “Let us see why the Centre will not climb down, if the gas supplies from ONGC and Gail are blocked,” he said.

TDP president and chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who held a teleconference with his party MPs and other functionaries on Tuesday, said the party should continue with its attempts to move the no-confidence motion in the Lok Sabha, while taking up the agitations at the field level.

According to TDP functionaries familiar with the matter, Naidu called for bicycle and two-wheeler rallies in all the districts on March 22, attacking the NDA over its stand on special category status. At the same time, they would also reveal a secret understanding between the BJP and the YSR Congress, he suggested.

The YSR Congress, which organised human chains in different parts of the state on Monday, claimed patent over the special category status issue. “It was only YSRC , which has been fighting for the status for the last four years. The TDP, which agreed for a special package earlier, has now taken a U-turn,” YSRC member of parliament Vijay Sai Reddy said.

State BJP president Kambhampati Hari Babu alleged that all the political parties in the state had ganged up against the party for political gains. “The opposition parties have been whipping up passions among the people on special category status all these days and now even the TDP has joined for political gains. We have already made it clear that the Centre was committed to implementing all the promises made in the bifurcation act,” he said.

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 18:54 IST