Autorickshaws and public buses remained off roads in several parts of Andhra Pradesh on Thursday as Left parties called for a state-wide bandh to protest against an “anti-people” Union Budget, The Indian Express reported. Schools across the state remained closed and exams were postponed exams to “avoid inconvenience to students”, the Commissioner of School Education said. The Andhra University in Visakhapatnam also suspended classes.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) called for the shutdown, which the YSR Congress, the Congress and several other local parties have backed, IANS reported. The ruling Telugu Desam Party – whose leaders spoke out against the Budget soon after it was announced on February 1 and have been protesting in both houses of Parliament – has also called for protests across the state. On Thursday, protests by members from Andhra Pradesh forced an adjournment in the Rajya Sabha, while Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar’s assurance that Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would address the concerns raised failed to pacify the MPs from the state, The Hindu reported.
In Andhra Pradesh, Leader of the Opposition YS Jaganmohan Reddy suspended his padayatra for a day and met with YSR Congress activists in Nellore in the morning, The News Minute reported. The transportation services on the Andhra Pradesh-Telangana State border had resumed, The Hindu quoted Deputy Superintendent of Police Srinivasa Rao as saying.
“The government gave Andhra Pradesh Rs 1800 crore in budget and [the movie] Baahubali’s collection is more than that,” TDP MP Jayadev Galla told ANI. “We received less than what a movie collected. If they can treat their allies like this then many people will not want to be their allies in future.”
Earlier, in a press statement, the CPI(M) said the Budget has, among other things, neglected the rural economy, The Indian Express reported. It called students and labour organisations to take part in the bandh.By midday, the Left parties were seen protesting in front of Road Transport Corporation depots, while youth on motorcycles pulled down the shutters of shops that had opened in the morning in Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, The Indian Express reported. Very few government employees went to work.
Police reportedly detained Congress and YSR Congress activists in Eluru. According to The Hindu, people were protesting peacefully across the state.
What is the state protesting?
The Telugu Desam Party, the BJP’s only ally in the south, is disappointed with how little was allotted to the state in the Union Budget. On February 4, three days after the Budget was presented, party leaders met Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in the state capital Amaravati to discuss its alliance with the BJP.
While Naidu decided not to break the alliance, he asked his MPs to protest against the Budget in Parliament. “Even at the risk of being suspended and thrown out of Parliament, protest and make yourself and the people of Andhra Pradesh who feel let down be heard loud and clear,” Naidu told his party leaders at the meeting.