A day-long bandh called by the opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh over central government's refusal to grant special category status to the state hit normal life on Saturday.
Several opposition activists were arrested across the state while staging protests. Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in Vijayawada, Guntur, Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Kurnool, Anantapur and other towns.
Protesters staged a sit-in at various depots of Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC). However a few buses continued services in certain parts of the state with police protection.
The bandh was called by the YSR Congress while the CPI, CPI(M) and Congress extended their support. The shutdown was total in Vijayawada, the functioning capital of the state. Buses were off the road and schools, colleges and shops remained closed.
The bandh was near total in YSRC leader Jaganmohan Reddy’s home district, Kadapa. All the APSRTC buses in the district went off the road while shops, petrol bunks and cinema theatres remained closed. In Srikakulam district, several YSR Congress leaders including former minister D. Prasad Rao were placed under house arrest.
Tension gripped parts of Tirupati town as police arrested several opposition leaders including B. Karunakar Reddy of YSR Congress. An attempt by CPI (M) workers to conduct a mock funeral of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was foiled by the police. The protesters alleged that Modi betrayed the people of the state by going back on his words to grant special status. The police imposed prohibitory orders in the town.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu called the bandh an irresponsible move and said, "People are already facing difficulties and the opposition now wants to create law and order problem. This is not acceptable. The central government has to fulfill its commitment (on special status), but the opposition parties in the state should not create problems."
While firmly ruling out according a special status, the Centre had announced special financial assistance to the state, a move that has not gone down well with the state leaders cutting across party lines.
The issue has rocked the Assembly for two days in a row with the YSR congress members stalling the proceedings. The House had to be adjourned sine die.