Hyderabad: Local transport was hit and establishments across Andhra Pradesh were shut on Thursday as autos and buses stayed off roads in response to the bandh call given by Left parties and other civil society organizations, which was also supported by the opposition YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and Congress. The call was given to protest against the “injustice" and less-than-expected fund allocation to the state in the Union Budget 2018.
The bandh evoked a good response across the state and was successful, especially in cities like Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, where even the government-run bus service was hit, and several people had come on to the roads to protest against the centre and were demanding justice for AP.
YSRCP chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is currently in Nellore district, also participated by staging a protest at a village where he is touring as part of the “Praja Sankalpa Yatra", or 3,000 kilometre walkathon across AP. A Congress spokesperson also said that party workers had been taken into custody at Eluru and Srikakulam districts and that former Congress MP T. Krupa Rani was put under house arrest by the police since Wednesday night in view of the bandh call.
Communist Party of India (CPI) state assistant secretary Satyanarayana Murthy said that the centre did not fulfil any of the promises that were made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act at the time the state got bifurcated from Telangana in 2014. “There was no support for Andhra Pradesh. The 12 educational institutions promised to the state haven’t seen light of the day yet," he said.
Murthy, who is based in Visakhapatnam, said his party ensured that the bandh call was successful and that all establishments stay shut for the day. “Even otherwise, the Union budget did not even provide proper funds for other projects in the state," he said.
Both Congress and YSRCP leaders from Andhra Pradesh said their parties had fully participated in the bandh.
On Wednesday, Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan also extended his support to the bandh, but asked his party workers to only protest peacefully and not cause inconvenience to the general public.
Kalyan, who campaigned for the ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance during the 2014 general and assembly elections, also called for all stakeholders to join hands and form a joint action committee (JAC) and demand “justice" for the state. In a press conference on Wednesday evening, he criticized the Andhra Pradesh government and the centre with regard to the budget.
The issue of Andhra Pradesh receiving less-than-expected funding has soured relations between the TDP and the BJP, putting the alliance on shaky grounds. Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu said last month that he will withdraw from the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) fold if the BJP does not want the partnership.
Naidu had called for an emergency parliamentary meeting last Sunday where it was decided that all TDP MPs will protest in Parliament and demand more funds for Andhra Pradesh from the centre. Both YSRCP and TDP MPs have been raising the issue in Parliament since then.