In what is becoming a dangerous trend for the ruling TDP-BJP alliance, another person has committed suicide to demand special status for Andhra Pradesh on Thursday.
Ramisetti Lakshmaiah (55), a resident of Vedayapalem on the outskirts of Nellore, hanged himself at his home and left a suicide note in terse Telugu that said, “Jai Andhra Pradesh, Jai Jai Andhra Pradesh, the state should be given special status. The state should develop. Special status is needed to solve the unemployment problem. This is my suicide note.” Lakshmaiah, who is survived by his wife, a son and a daughter, had been an activist against the division of the state.
Already, two others have attempted suicide for the same cause. Muni Koti (38), a resident of Tirupati in Chittoor district, immolated himself on 9 August and Chavali Subba Rao (31) hanged himself at his home in Pamarru near Vijayawada on 22 August. Koti died, but Subba Rao is in a coma.
The suicide attempts have triggered protests across the state over the last few days. A few more youngsters tried to immolate themselves in public but were stopped. Lakshmaiah’s suicide sparked protests in Nellore district, which witnessed a shutdown on Thursday afternoon.
Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who returned empty handed from Delhi on Tuesday, held a press conference in Vijayawada and appealed to people to refrain from such extreme protests. “I earnestly request all, especially the youth not to get carried away by emotions and end their valuable lives for special status,” he said, while expressing grief over the death of Lakshmaiah.
The recently formed Andhra Pradesh Special Status Sadhana Samithi has called for protest demonstrations in front of all TDP, BJP and government offices and called for a bandh on Friday. Opposition parties like YSR Congress, Congress and the Left have backed the call.
The demand for special status has become an emotional issue in AP, as it is being seen as a solution to all the problems the state is facing since the creation of Telangana. People in the coastal districts used to migrate to Hyderabad for jobs and education, but they are now finding it difficult to get employment, as migration has almost ended since the bifurcation of the state last year.
Special status is therefore being considered essential for attracting industries and investments to AP.
An alternative special package instead of a special status, as being advocated by the Telegu Desam Party and the BJP leaders, has not gained public approval.
“It is a fact that people firmly believe that only special status can solve their problems. The CM is doing his best to explain the situation to the Central government, but unfortunately, we have not been able to get any assurance till now,” AP Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu told The Sunday Guardian on Thursday.
Several TDP ministers are dismayed at the Centre’s attitude on the issue. Some of them told this newspaper on condition of anonymity that the Centre does not understand the sensitivity of the situation. “We are worried by this trend of suicide attempts,” said a minister from Guntur district.
PM Modi met Naidu and a large delegation of ministers and senior officials in Delhi on Tuesday, and a decision was taken to prepare a roadmap for implementing the assurances given to AP in the State Reorganisation Act of 2014. However, although Naidu submitted a memorandum seeking aid worth Rs 2 lakh crore, the Centre remained non-committal.