TDP legislators arrested for marching to new airport

March 14th, 2008 - 11:00 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

Hyderabad, March 14 (IANS) Sixteen legislators of Andhra Pradesh’s main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were arrested here Friday when they were planning to disrupt the inauguration of the new international airport at Shamshabad. TDP leader and former minister T. Devender Goud and 15 others were arrested at Rajendernagar when they were marching towards Shamshabad in violation of the prohibitory orders imposed in the area.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi later inaugurated the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport amid tight security.

The Cyberabad police had prohibited assembly of five or more people in Shamshabad and surrounding areas in view of the TDP’s plans to disrupt the inaugural function and the Telangana shutdown call given by Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) to protest the delay in formation of a separate state of Telangana.

Protesting against the arrest of their leaders, TDP workers staged a sit-in on the road to the airport. The police used force to disperse them.

TDP had threatened to disrupt the inaugural ceremony to protest removal of the name its founder and former chief minister N.T. Rama Rao from the Hyderabad airport. The new airport is known as Rajiv Gandhi International Airport while the old airport has a domestic terminal named after Rama Rao.

The opposition party has announced that it would change the name of the airport if voted to power in next year’s elections.

Earlier, the issue rocked the state legislative assembly. All TDP legislators were suspended from the house for a day by Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy when they stalled the proceedings to demand that the new airport should also have a terminal named after their leader.

As soon as the house met for the day, the TDP members raised the issue. Amid the din, the speaker adjourned the house for 15 minutes. When it re-assembled, the TDP legislators continued their protest, which finally led to their suspension for a day.

TDP has 45 members in the state assembly.

BJP legislator G. Kishan Reddy was also suspended from the assembly for a day when he tried to stall the proceedings over the Telangana demand. He had moved an adjournment motion on the issue. The party has only two legislators in the house.

The BJP’s shutdown call to coincide with Gandhi’s state visit evoked good response in some districts as the shops and business establishments remained closed.

Tension prevailed in some parts of the state capital when BJP workers took to streets and damaged a few buses. More than 1,000 BJP workers were arrested in all nine districts of the region.

The Maoists had also given a shutdown call over the Telangana issue.

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