Vijayawada: Andhra Pradesh observed a complete shutdown on 5 March in protest against the proposed privatization of Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP). However, instances of violence were reported across Kaikaluru in Krishna district and Ongole in Prakasam district between YSRCP and TDP workers during the bandh.
In Kaikaluru, the TDP leaders, led by Venkata Ramana, displayed placards alleging that the YSRCP government was responsible for the privatization of VSP. YSRCP is planning to purchase VSP for South Korean steel manufacturer POSCO, the TDP alleged. Angry over the TDP's placards, the YSRCP activists tried to tear them down leading to a clash between the two parties. The police pacified the two groups, averting further violence.
Meanwhile, minor clashes were also reported at Ongole in Prakasam district between the TDP and YSRCP activists over the enforcement of the bandh. The police brought the situation under control.
Except for the BJP and its ally Jana Sena Party, all political parties, including the ruling YSRCP, opposition TDP, and the Left parties took part in the statewide bandh. Educational institutions and universities remained shut while some commercial establishments opened in the evening.
The highways wore a deserted look as private bus operators, truck operators' associations, and autorickshaw drivers' unions extended their support to the bandh. The APSRTC stalled bus services till 1 p.m in protest against the privatization of the VSP. However, the RTC employees resumed duties in the afternoon wearing black badges.
The YSRCP leaders said the AP government had already conveyed to the Centre it was against the privatization of the steel plant. Chief minister Y.S Jagan Mohan Reddy had already written a letter to the Centre suggesting alternatives to the privatization, they added.
AIMIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi who is visiting Kurnool also extended his support to the people of Andhra Pradesh and their agitation against the privatization. TDP chief Nara Chandrababu Naidu visited Vizag on Friday and extended his support to the bandh and raised his voice against the proposed privatization of VSP.