Sonia Gandhi begins Andhra visit amid shutdown, protest

March 14th, 2008 - 12:41 pm ICT by admin  

Hyderabad, March 14 (IANS) United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi began her day-long visit to Andhra Pradesh Friday amid a shutdown called by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maoists and a protest by the main opposition Telugu Desam Party. Tight security arrangements have been made as sporadic incidents of violence were reported from the Telangana region during the shutdown.

The BJP and Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) have separately given a call for a shutdown in Telangana to protest the delay by the UPA government in granting separate statehood to the region. BJP workers took to the streets in the state capital here and in other parts of the region to enforce the shutdown.

The party activists damaged a few buses in Kukatpally neighbourhood here as shops and business establishments in some localities remained closed. There is heavy police presence on the roads, especially on those leading to the new international airport at Shamshabad, which will be inaugurated by Sonia Gandhi Friday evening.

Cyberabad police have imposed prohibitory orders in and around Shamshabad, about 30 km from the city centre. The police have banned the assembly of five or more people in view of the shutdown and the threat by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to disrupt the airport inauguration ceremony over the naming of the airport.

The new airport has been named after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi but the TDP is demanding that the use of two names for the facility should continue. The international terminal at the existing airport at Begumpet in the city is named after Rajiv Gandhi while the domestic terminal is named after TDP founder and former chief minister N.T. Rama Rao.

The inner ring road leading to the new airport has been decked up with flags of the state’s ruling Congress and huge banners welcoming the party president.

She will begin her visit with a halt in coastal Andhra. After dedicating the Pushkaram lift irrigation project to the nation and addressing a public meeting at Jaggampet in East Godavari district, Sonia Gandhi will visit either J. Chokka Rao lift irrigation project or Devadula project in Warangal district of the Telangana region.

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