Hyderabad: A bandh call given on Tuesday by the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in Andhra Pradesh demanding special status category (SSC) status for the state ended in high drama, with a party activist dying from heart failure after reportedly being taken into police custody at Jangareddigudem in West Godavari district, the party said. YSRCP leaders in all 13 districts of AP were picked up by the police after they tried to enforce a shutdown.

The bandh, which created law and order problems across AP, was not supported by other opposition parties. According to the YSRCP, the deceased was identified as Kaki Durga Rao. The party claimed that Rao died of cardiac arrest while was being remanded by the police. Other YSRCP leaders like Ambati Rambabu, Botsa Satyanarayana and Goutham Reddy were also arrested, said the party.

Addressing a press conference, YSRCP chief Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy censured the state government over the incidents that allegedly took place and said that AP chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo was “insincere" on the SCS issue, which has now taken centre stage in AP politics.

“The bandh showed the seriousness of the special category status demand," he added. Reddy had halted his ongoing 3,000 kilometer ‘Padayatra’ across AP to address the media about Tuesday’s developments.

Reddy also claimed that over 1,000 of its activists were taken into custody for peacefully protesting across the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh. “The TDP and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are both culprits and will vanish from the state. If the TDP is also asking for SCS, why did it stay away from the bandh?" he said. The YSRCP also alleged that there is a nexus between both the parties even after they broke their alliance in March.

Prior to this, the left parties in AP had also given a bandh call in February over the SCS, which was conducted successfully, as even other opposition parties supported it.

Five YSR Congress MPs had resigned in April in protest against Andhra Pradesh not being accorded special category status. The issue has gained prominence this year with both the TDP and the YSR Congress Party insisting on it even after the Centre made it clear that the demand would not be met. In 2016, Naidu had accepted a special assistance package in lieu of special category status for the state.

It led to the Telugu Desam Party in February began blaming the Centre for not fulfilling its promises made to Andhra Pradesh following its bifurcation in 2014 and resulted in the TDP walking out of the National Democratic Alliance on 16 March. Earlier in March, two of its MPs had resigned from the Union Cabinet.

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