Moderate response to VSP bandh
Visakhapatnam /Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh bandh called by the Left parties on Friday, opposing the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (V...
Visakhapatnam /Amaravati: The Andhra Pradesh bandh called by the Left parties on Friday, opposing the privatisation of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP), evoked moderate response.
While the activists of left parties and a few major parties like the TDP and Congress were seen on roads from 5.30 am, the YSRCP activists came out around 10.30 am and their presence was noticed more in Vizag rather than in other districts. The BJP-Jana Sena combine did not participate in the bandh.
Stray incidents were reported from different places in the State but overall the bandh ended peacefully, police sources said. The AP State Road Transport Corporation suspended its services till afternoon while educational institutions remained shut.
Cinema halls did not run the morning show but major businesses were not affected by the bandh. Employees of the state Secretariat sported black badges and attended work, in solidarity with the protesters.
The Telugu Desam Party, the Congress, trade unions and other organisations too extended support to the bandh, denouncing the Centre's decision to go ahead with a "strategic sale" of the VSP, operated by the Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited.
They all demanded that the Centre immediately withdraw from the move to sell the VSP to private parties. The protesters took out rallies in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Guntur and other main centres in the state, with the slogan 'Visakha Ukku--Andhrula Hakku' (Vizag Steel is Andhra's Right).
Andhra Pradesh Congress president S Sailajanath, who led a rally in Visakhapatnam, alleged that the YSRCP and the BJP were colluding to privatise valuable government assets in the State. Farmers in the Amaravati region, who themselves were agitated for over a year now opposing the relocation of the State capital, extended support to the bandh and took out a rally.
There was an altercation between the protesters and the police at Mandadam village in Amaravati as the latter tried to stop the rally. In Kaikaluru in Krishna district, activists of YSRCP and TDP got engaged in a scuffle over a banner but the police intervened and dispersed them.
In Visakhapatnam, state Minister M Srinivasa Rao, MPs M V Satyanarayana and V V Sai Reddy led the protest against the steel plant privatisation and organised a 'human chain'. Donning the role of an anchor, Vijaysai Reddy asked the left activists as to why they were on road.
Pat came the reply that they were on road from 5.30 am to oppose the privatisation of VSP and demanded that the MoU with POSCO be annulled. Reddy instead of replying to it insisted on knowing when the MoU was entered and during whose regime. The left activists countered saying that does not matter. Now that YSRCP is in power they should cancel the MoU. Reddy quietly walked away from there.
In Guntur city, the protesters were apprehended by the police as they tried to force closure of shops in the commercial area Brodipet and Arundelpet. The protesters organised a road blockade at Shankar Vilas Centre, causing traffic jams.