Condition of fasting TDP leaders deteriorating
condition of some of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders deteriorated
Friday on the fourth day of their indefinite fast demanding
rollback of the hike in electricity tariff.
Out of 30 fasting legislators of TDP, half of them have taken ill
appears to be repeating itself in Andhra Pradesh with the
opposition parties closing ranks for state-wide protests over the
severe electricity shortage and the proposed hike in tariff.
The Left parties and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP)
have come together to pressurise the government to roll back the
fuel surcharge adjustment (FSA), withdraw the proposed tariff hike
and also to take concrete measures to tide over the severe power
Power distribution companies have proposed a 47 percent tariff
hike to net Rs.12,723 crore during 2013-14. A decision by the
electricity regulatory commission is likely in a couple of days.
This in addition to the FSA imposed on consumers for recovering
the huge expenses the distribution companies have incurred on
purchasing power from outside the state to meet the demand. The
distribution companies are collecting FSA even for the purchases
made last year. The FSA is expected to bring in some Rs.18,000
This huge burden of over Rs.30,000 crore has been imposed on
consumers in spite of the severe crisis gripping the state due to
the fall in electricity generation and a huge increase in demand.
The TDP, the YSR Congress party, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS)
and some small parties had come together to back an indefinite
hunger strike on the issue by the leaders of the Left parties,
which was forcibly ended by the police on the fourth day Tuesday.
Hours after the arrests of leaders of the Communist Party of India
(CPI), the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and eight
other Left parties, the TDP leaders launched an indefinite fast.
About 30 leaders of the main opposition party, including 25
legislators, began the hunger strike at the Old MLA Quarters. The
Left parties, which are backing the protest, have also called for
a state shutdown on April 9. The TDP has declared support to the
Going a step forward, TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu has offered
to join hands with any opposition party except the YSR Congress as
he blamed the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy for the current power
The indefinite fast by the TDP leaders remind the people of the
similar protest launched by then leader of opposition Rajasekhara
Reddy, popularly known as YSR. The Congress leader's fast and the
subsequent 'chalo assembly' called by the Left parties marked the
climax of a massive statewide protest against the then TDP
government's decision to hike electricity tariff in 2000.
Three people were killed in the police firing during the march to
the assembly and after the Congress came to power in 2004 it built
a memorial for the 'martyrs' at Basheerbagh near the assembly
building. YSR also implemented his election promise of free
electricity for farmers, a move which is blamed by many for the
mismanagement of the electricity sector.
Naidu, who is on a 'padyatra' for the last six months, said
Congress leaders, who raised a hue and cry when his government had
imposed a small burden of Rs.1,600 crore on consumers, were silent
on a Rs.32,000 crore burden imposed by their government.
Both the TDP and the Left parties have planned a series of
protests from April 1. The YSR Congress has drawn up separate
The opposition parties are not satisfied with the way the
government responded to their concerns during the budget session
of the assembly that ended Tuesday.
"We will not call off the fast until the government comes forward
to absorb the entire burden of FSA, drop its proposal to hike the
tariff and announce a policy to improve the supplies," said TDP
legislator R. Chandrasekhara Reddy.
Political observers say the opposition is keen to keep the heat
over the electricity issue in the run-up to the Lok Sabha and
assembly elections scheduled for next year. Inflated power bills
have angered people, who are also reeling under four- to 12-hour
power cuts daily due to an unprecedented gap between demand and
Analysts say similar public anger, coupled with the crisis in
agriculture, had led to the TDP's crushing defeat in the 2004
assembly elections. The TDP is hoping to repay the compliment in
The Congress, on the other hand, is planning to keep the
opposition busy with the byelections to some assembly seats and
the local body elections, thus giving them no time to focus on
(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)