Most shops, schools and offices have ignored the call for a strike by the protesting groups, who want a new state of Telangana to be carved out of Andhra Pradesh. The Centre agreed to this in December 2009, but backtracked after massive protests by those who are not from Telangana.
Today's bandh comes as Hyderabad hosts a huge UN convention attended by 8,000 international delegates; the Telangana activists want to embarrass the Congress government in the state.
Yesterday, nearly fifty thousand people, including thousands of students, marched on Necklace Road to rally for a Telangana state; the police lathi-charged and tear-gassed the protesters. Several vehicles were set on fire by the protestors.
Today's bandh has been called to protest against the police action during yesterday's rally.
The Joint Action Committee for Telangana serves as the nodal agency for the movement.
Its chairman M Kodandaram has said a hunger strike will be held tomorrow and that a fast-unto-death will begin soon.
The Telangana movement has been largely fronted by the TRS, a party led by K Chandrasekhar Rao, usually referred to as KCR. Most other political parties including the BJP support the cause of a new state.
The Congress government also has to contend with a huge internal divide - ministers and state legislators who belong to Telangana say they cannot face voters, and want the Centre to commit to a timeline for the creation of a new state.
That's difficult for the Centre. Andhra Pradesh has a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats, 17 of which are from Telangana. In 2009, the Congress' win in the general elections was powered largely by its strong showing in Andhra Pradesh. Sources in the party say that it is not prepared to risk another political agitation or political alienation ahead of the next general election, scheduled for 2014.
Congress leaders from Andhra Pradesh and Governor ESL Narasimhan, who is believed to be against the idea of a new state, have met recently with Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Delhi.
(With Inputs from Agencies)
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