Opposition strike hits hard Andhra Pradesh

The shutdown was partial in Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam and other major towns but total in some other places, affecting normal life. The strike was called by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and Left parties separately was supported by Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and Praja Rajyam Party (PRP).

Leaders and hundreds of activists of the parties were arrested for staging road and rail blockades and for forcing shops to down shutters in Hyderabad and 22 other districts. Shops, business establishments and educational institutions remained closed in most parts of the state while bus services of the state-owned Road Transport Corp (RTC) came to a grinding halt. An official of RTC said it was operating only 20 percent of the bus services.

The Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station at Imlibun here, the biggest bus station in the state, wore a near deserted look as RTC suspended long-distance services. Buses going to the Tirupati temple were exempted from the shutdown. In Hyderabad, shops, petrol pumps and other business establishments were closed in some areas. The work in IT companies was not affected. All schools, colleges and universities remained closed while Osmania University postponed all examinations.

Police kept Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president G. Kishan Reddy under house arrest here in view of President Pratibha Patil's visit to the city. He termed the police action as "undemocratic". Police had made tight security arrangements to prevent protests near Raj Bhavan and Ravindra Bharati where the president attended a programme. Senior BJP leader M. Venkaiah Naidu, Kishan Reddy and Bandaru Dattatreya were later arrested at the busy Khairtabad cross roads for staging road blockade.

"The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government has declared a war on poor people by increasing the fuel prices and we will fight against this on streets and in parliament by all democratic means," Venkaiah Naidu said. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu and leaders of Left parties were also arrested while holding protests here. Chandrababu Naidu was taken into custody along with several TDP leaders and activists when they staged a road block in the busy  Ameerpet area.

Tension prevailed as Chandrababu Naidu's supporters tried to resist his arrest for sometime. The protest caused a huge traffic jam in one of the main commercial areas in the city. Chandrababu Naidu later told reporters that the nationwide shutdown called by the opposition was a "grand success" as all sections of people were taking part in it voluntarily.

"The government has to realise the seriousness of the price hike and roll back the hike. The opposition protests will continue until then," the former chief minister said. Police also arrested Communist Party of India (CPI) state secretary K. Narayana and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader B V Raghavulu besides others.

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