Telugu Desam Party (TDP) head N Chandrababu Naidu continued his indefinite fast on Wednesday despite warning by doctors that it could have serious health implications while opposition parties called for road blockades across the state on Thursday to express solidarity with him.
The former chief minister's fast, demanding a relief package for farmers affected by the recent rains, entered the sixth day on Wednesday as attempts by doctors to administer fluids to him failed.
The 60-year-old has been resisting attempts by doctors at the Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) to forcibly give him intravenous (IV) fluids in view of his failing health.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy also appealed to Naidu to end his fast as the government had done everything possible to help farmers.
Addressing a public meeting at Jadcherla in Mahabubnagar district, he recalled that during TDP rule when 90 Congress legislators under the leadership of then opposition leader YS Rajasekhara Reddy had launched a hunger strike to protest hike in electricity tariff, nobody from the government had come to meet them.
"But I am not like them. When I was in Delhi I directed ministers to take necessary steps and even sent them for talks (with Naidu)," he said.
Claiming that his government was sincere towards farmers' welfare, he said that during last five years, the government spent Rs 8,000 crore to help farmers hit hard by natural calamities whereas the TDP, during its nine-year rule, had spent a meagre Rs 33 crore.
"Today they have no right to question us," the chief minister said.
Protesting the government's continued silence on Naidu's demands, TDP and other opposition parties called for road blockades across the state on Thursday.
They also voiced concern over Naidu's deteriorating condition. Senior TDP leader N Janardhan Reddy said the government would be responsible if anything happened to Naidu.
At NIMS, doctors warned Naidu against continuing the fast, saying it could lead to serious complications.
"His condition may take a serious turn anytime and we have asked his family members to advise him to break the fast immediately," said NIMS director PV Ramesh.
Doctors led by Naidu's personal physician and eminent cardiologist B Somaraju conducted medical tests.
State Health Minister DL Ravindra Reddy said the government would do everything for Naidu's treatment. He said the government was ready to call an all-party meeting on farmers' problems, if Naidu calls off the fast.
The leader of opposition, who was arrested and brought to hospital Monday, has been refusing to undergo treatment or break his fast unless the government comes out with a clear package to provide relief to farmers who lost their crops in recent rains.
Naidu also rejected his wife Bhuvaneswari's advice. His relatives, including actors Junior NTR and Kalyanram, called on him and appealed to him to call off his fast.
TDP intensified its protest across the state amid concerns about Naidu's health.
"This government is acting in an inhuman way by not coming to the rescue of farmers and by not caring for our leader's health," said TDP leader K Yerran Naidu.
He claimed that 22 to 23 farmers were committing suicide every day due to the heavy crop losses in recent rains. "Mr. Chandrababu Naidu is not fasting for any political mileage as there are no elections in near future," he said.
A delegation of TDP MPs along with Communist Party of India (CPI) and Comunist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leaders, meanwhile, met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, seeking his intervention to help the farmers.
Congress MPs from the state also called on party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi. Union Minister for Urban Development S Jaipal Reddy told reporters that she had assured of all help from the central government to affected farmers.