Hyderabad, April 3: Even as protests by opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh continued today demanding a rollback of hike in electricity tariff, Congress leader and union Tourism Minister K. Chiranjeevi again urged the Congress government to withdraw the hike. Final decision is expected tomorrow or on April 5, and there could be marginal rollback of the tariff.
The power tariff issue has, in fact, divided the Congress party in AP. Chiranjeevi found fault with state Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana and senior leader Renuka Chowdhury for defending the hike in power tariff.
hiranjeevi told reporters in New Delhi that such decisions should be taken only after discussion in the cabinet and the Congress coordination committee. "I am speaking on behalf of the people," he remarked, in response to the criticism from some Congress leaders that he was speaking for the opposition.
Electricity tariff was hiked March 30 for all categories of consumers, in some categories as much as 30 percent hike, imposing a burden of over Rs.6,000 crore on people.
Supporting Chiranjeevi was party state affairs in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad. Union Health Minister Azad has told Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy that a steep hike during an election year would be catastrophic for Congress.
Kiran Kumar Reddy has told Azad that he is going to hold meetings with AP Electricity Regulatory Commission on April 4 and 5 to take a final decision on the issue.
Today, the state police arrested YSR Congress party leaders and activists when they tried to stop Kiran Kumar Reddy's convoy in Nellore.
YSR Congress party honorary president YS Vijayamma's indefinite fast in Hyderabad entered the second day on Wednesday. As many as 35 legislators, including 13 rebels of the ruling Congress, and the main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP), are also on hunger strike with her.
Meanwhile, leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended their fast on the fifth day.
BJP state president G. Kishan Reddy and other leaders called off their fast at Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) Hospital here.
The BJP leaders, who were shifted to hospital on Tuesday night, said they ended their fast following an assurance by the government to reconsider the hike.
Leaders of the Communist parties and the TDP had also launched indefinite fast separately and they were also forcibly shifted to hospital.
The Left parties have already called for a state shutdown on April 9 and this has been supported by TDP, Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and other opposition parties.
The TDP also continued collecting signatures, and claimed to have garnered the support of two crore people opposing the tariff hike.