VIJAYAWADA/VISAKHAPATNAM: The Jallikattu campaign may have turned violent in neighbouring Tamil Nadu but netizens, particularly youngsters, from Seemandhra have taken a leaf out of the Marina Beach protests to breathe new life into the demand for special category status to the State - something that was promised on the floor of the Rajya Sabha at the time of the passage of the AP Reorganisation Bill by the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in 2014.
It all began with Jana Sena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan's Sunday tweet that “If the youth of Andhra are planning to do a silent protest on 26th Jan at RK Beach, Vizag, #Janasena Supports them.” The tweet was retweeted thousands of times and by Monday evening, the hashtag #APdemandsspecialstatus was among the top trends in the country.
Facebook pages on special status popped up from nowhere. Taking the cue from Pawan, Tollywood actors like Nikhil, Varun Tej and others lent support and fans associations of stars, including Mahesh Babu, jumped in to “make arrangements” for the silent protests. No one knows who is heading the protests though.
Going by social media, the protests are planned at RK Beach in Vizag, Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada and Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati on Jan 26. Calls for participation are circulating on WhatsApp too. On Facebook, ‘Special Status for AP’ page is being handled by some students of the GITAM University who coined a new slogan - 'Hum Ladenge… Hum Ladenge… Hum Jitne Thak Ladenge.'
To their credit, the wannabe protestors want to keep it apolitical and appealed to all not to display political flags or cause inconvenience to the public. Pawan's fans in Visakhapatnam have gone into top gear while claiming that it's not a political move.
"This is not a protest by Pawan Kalyan or his fans. Neither is it being organised by any NGO. We are just coming forward for our State. Our association members are coming from Kakinada and Rajamahendravaram," claimed V Satish, a Jana Sena volunteer from Visakhapatnam.
However, Pawan's tweets sounded like a call for direct action. Sample this: "Does the North Indian political elites know! How many languages are there in south? For them we are all Madrasis!" He went on to warn how "we know how to bring down their (North Indian leadership) snobbishness and pointed out that the "only remedy to achieve the promised SCS" is silent protest by the youth of Andhra.
Interestingly, YSRC chief YS Jaganmohan Reddy, usually inactive on Twitter, chipped in with a tweet, “Any program or event demanding #APSCS is welcome. Request all supporters esp youth to come forward, support & make these events a big success."
The CPI, and CPM parties besides several other organisations including Jayaprakash Narayan's Lok Satta too pledged their support. However, none has aprpoached the police till Monday evening seeking permission for the protests in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada or Tirupati.
The police warned any violation of law will not be tolerated.
What: Silent Protest Why: Demand Special Category Status for AP as promised in the AP Reorganisation Act When: 9 am on January 26 Where: YMCA, RK Beach in Vizag; Prakasam Barrage in Vijayawada; SVU in Tirupati
Reacting to this, CM Chandrababu Naidu said, "How can one compare Jallikattu to SCS? What is the need for a movement for SCS when the Centre announced a special package and assured all benefits that will be secured through SCS?"
"Should we fight for the tag SCS? State govt is sailing with Centre to protect the State's interests. I am not afraid of anyone. I would be the first to raise voice and lead protest if injustice is done to State Youth should refrain from taking part in protests proposed by Opposition at Vizag beach," he declared.
The CM added, "Opposition refrain from ruining the image of the Port City. Those, who failed to write letters to the Centre to stop division of the State and prevent injustice, are now writing letters to me People of AP have given me a historic opportunity to make it No.1 State in India. I'm working day and night to make it a reality."
"At this critical juncture, we need calm, composed, balanced approach and experienced leadership for welfare & development of our State. I'm committed and dedicated to make Andhra shine as the Sunrise State. This is my word to my people Opposition unable to digest my efforts to make the State a role model in development," he concluded.