Ban on road shows in Andhra hits political parties

November 26th, 2008 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Nov 26 (IANS) The ban imposed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court on road shows has come as a setback to the political parties in the state that were gearing up for polls next year.The court passed interim orders Tuesday while hearing a public interest petition filed by a voluntary organisation, seeking a ban on road shows for causing havoc with the lives of ordinary citizens.

The ban came after six people died in three stampedes during road shows of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi during the last one month.

Chiranjeevi’s Praja Rajyam and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) were the worst hit by the ban.

After evoking massive public response to his road shows in north coastal Andhra, parts of Telangana and Rayalseema regions, Chiranjeevi was planning to cover the remaining districts.

TDP president and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had also prepared grand plans for state-wide road shows. For the first time, former chief minister N.T. Rama Rao’s son Balakrishna and grandson Junior NTR, both popular actors, were to go amidst people to seek their support to the TDP.

After the court order, Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, who recently launched road shows to counter Chiranjeevi, has decided convert his proposed road show in Medak Friday into a public meeting.

Chiranjeevi has cancelled his visits to Nellore and Prakasam districts from Nov 29. His party and also TDP have declared that they will challenge the court order.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao, who recently launched a ‘yatra’ in Telangana, stopped road shows soon after the court passed the orders. Instead, he is addressing public meetings.

TRS, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) opposed the blanket ban and demanded that road shows be allowed with certain guidelines.

The ruling Congress party and Lok Satta were the only parties that welcomed the ban. They said the public should not be inconvenienced in the name of road shows.

Abhipray, a voluntary organisation, had approached the court seeking ban on road shows. The petitioner complained that lives were being lost during road shows by political leaders and that people were unable to reach their destinations due to traffic jams.

Though Praja Rajyam urged the court not to impose a ban and allow some time to file counter affidavit, the division bench comprising A.R. Dave and Justice R. Subhash Reddy said that they could not allow people to die in the name of road shows.

The court asked all parties to file their counter affidavits making out their stand clear on the issue. It adjourned the case to the next week.

Elections to the state assembly and Lok Sabha are due to be held in March-April next year.

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