New Delhi: Parliament on Thursday continued to witness protests from the members of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and YSR Congress over demand for special status to Andhra Pradesh and other financial benefits to the state.
In Lok Sabha, members of the two parties again staged separate protests, forcing a brief adjournment during Question Hour while the Rajya Sabha witnessed pandemonium over the issue even as the attempts to resolve the issue by Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu failed.
As the Lok Sabha met, members from the TDP and the YSR Congress trooped near the Speaker’s podium with placards and started raising slogans demanding “justice” for Andhra Pradesh.
Union Minister Y.S. Chowdary, who is from the TDP, also asked the protesting members to give some time to the government.
“If the issues are not resolved in 15 days, we can have an exclusive discussion on this ...,” he said.
The TDP members, however, continued their protest. As the debate proceeded, members from both the parties were still standing near the Speaker’s podium even though the sloganeering stopped.
In Rajya Sabha, the scene was no different.
Soon after the house reassembled at 12 noon, TDP members raked up the issue of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act and demanded a solution to the crisis.
In an attempt to resolve the issue, Naidu allowed Chowdary to give suggestions over the demand of special status to Andhra Pradesh.
“If government is willing, there are some issues of special status category. My request to the government is that if they can commit to resolve the issue in 15 days. The Finance Minister should address this concern in his reply to the budget speech,” he said.
“On behalf of the government, I would like to mention here, at the cost of repetition, that the entire house is fully aware how the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act was passed so unscientifically and unreasonably. For which both the national parties are responsible.
“When we are talking about cooperative federalism, it cannot be partly cooperative. Respect has to be there for members, not for numbers. So, in this case, for the last three and a half years, our Government could not implement certain commitments given during enactment of this Act,” he added.
Chowdhury requested the government to commit that the Finance Minister will resolve the issue within fifteen days while replying to the budget discussion and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Vijay Goel assured that Jaitley will address the issue.
But some of the members including YSR Congress raised objections to Chowdhury’s remarks.
“TDP is an ally of BJP and part of the government which has approved the President’s address. How can a minister differ from it now,” YSRCP member Vijaysai Reddy said.
The Chairman then clarified that the minister had given suggestions to find out a solution.
“There is no constitutional misuse. If anyone wants to give suggestions he can give. A minister, as a member of his political party can give suggestions. He has not protested, but gave suggestions to resolve the issue,” he said.
But the agitating members were on their feet and they continued with their protest.
Naidu then adjourned the house till 2pm saying: “You don’t want a solution. I am adjourning the house.”
The TDP members, who are a part of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), have slammed the Union government for not keeping its promise and not following the “alliance dharma”
Meanwhile, an opposition-sponsored bandh began on Thursday morning in Andhra Pradesh where state-run bus services have been suspended and educational institutions shut.
Opposition parties are enforcing the day-long bandh to protest the “failure” of the Centre to implement the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Parallel to this, the ruling Telugu Desam has been organising rallies across the state in solidarity with its MPs “fighting in Parliament to secure the state’s rights”.
“People and intellectuals, irrespective of political affiliations, should stand in solidarity with our MPs, who have been fighting in Parliament for the state’s rights,” state TDP president and Energy Minister Kimidi Kala Venkata Rao said.
The AP State Road Transport Corporation suspended bus services across the state in view of the simultaneous agitations.
Educational institutions declared a “holiday”, while business establishments remained shut.
A senior police official said no untoward incident was reported so far and the bandh was continuing peacefully.
The Left parties called the bandh demanding that the Centre honour its promises and implement provisions of the Reorganisation Act, which led to creation of Telangana.
The main opposition YSR Congress, the Congress and the Jana Sena extended support to the bandh.
YSRC president and leader of opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy declared a one-day break from his ongoing foot march in view of the bandh. He is currently in SPS Nellore district.
Left workers staged dharnas in front of several Road Transport Corporation depots and also took out rallies in important towns.
In Kurnool, Guntur and Tirupati, YSRC activists joined protest rallies.
Opposition parties have been protesting the “injustice” done to the state in the Union Budget 2018-19 and the Centre’s failure to implement the Act in its letter and spirit.
The Act deals with a host of issues like division of assets and liabilities of institutions between AP and Telangana and release of funds for Polavaram project and other schemes in Andhra Pradesh.
Thin attendance was reported in government offices and public sector undertakings like Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, Visakhapatnam Port Trust, National Thermal Power Corp and Hindustan Shipyard, and other entities.
Transport services in Visakhapatnam were paralysed as private and public bus services, autorickshaws, lorries and trucks remained off the road.
Commercial establishments and hotels downed shutters in the port city while government and private schools and colleges declared a “holiday” in view of the bandh.
The Andhra University (AU) announced suspension of classes to avoid inconvenience to students.
Classes would be suspended at the Visakhapatnam-based AU and its affiliated colleges, said Registrar V Umamaheswara Rao in a statement.