Accompanied by Congress MPs, legislators and thousands of supporters, former MP Y S Jaganmohan Reddy on Tuesday began a daylong fast to highlight the "injustice" to Andhra Pradesh in the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal Award and the plight of farmers.
Jagan, along with about 3,000 supporters, reached Delhi by a special train on Tuesday morning and went straight to Jantar Mantar, the 186-year-old observatory in central Delhi, to begin the protest amid the chanting of slogans.
The protest, seen as a show of strength by his supporters in the national capital, is likely to increase worries for the Congress leadership as several legislators travelled to the capital to share the dais with the former MP who plans to formally launch his political party in the coming days.
Sources close to Jagan, as he is popularly known, said 26 Congress legislators and two MPs -- Mekapati Rajamohan Reddy from Nellore and Sabbam Hari from Anakapalli -- were taking part in the protest. They said two MLAs from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) had also joined in.
A senior Congress leader admitted that Jagan's protest in the capital was a challenge to the party. "The party has to tread carefully as it has a thin majority in the state assembly," the leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
A large stretch of Parliament Street was blocked off by Jagan's supporters, with a dais built in the middle of the road for the fasting leaders.
Jagan's associates said several former ministers and MLAs from the state had also joined him in the protest. They said the protest was to highlight the "injustice" done to Andhra Pradesh in the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal Award as also the plight of the state's farmers who suffered heavily due to cyclones and heavy rains in the past few months.
Jagan resigned from the Congress and his Kadapa parliamentary seat after accusing the party leadership of trying to divide the family by luring his uncle Y S Vivekananda Reddy with a ministerial berth in the Andhra Pradesh cabinet.
Jagan has been on a collision course with the Congress since the leadership rejected his claim to the chief minister's chair following the death of his father, the late chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, in a helicopter crash Sep 2, 2009. He moved the Election Commission last week for registering his newly-floated political party.
Last month, nearly two dozen legislators shared the dais with Jagan when he undertook a 48-hour fast at Vijayawada, demanding compensation for farmers who lost their crops in the recent untimely heavy rains.
Several political parties and groups in Andhra Pradesh have spoken against the Krishna water disputes award, saying it was a blow to the farmers of the state.