Naidu continues fast in hospital, condition deteriorates (Night Lead)

Monday, December 20, 2010

HYDERABAD - Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu continued his indefinite fast at the hospital where he was shifted after being arrested by police early Monday, prompting his Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to call for a statewide shutdown.

Naidu, whose indefinite fast to demand a relief package for farmers entered the fourth day, refused to undergo treatment or take fluids at the Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) though both doctors and the state government have appealed to him to call off his fast in view of his deteriorating condition.

A team of doctors, which examined the leader of opposition in the evening, voiced concern over his health. Health Minister D.L. Ravindra Reddy told reporters that, if necessary, fluids would be administered to Naidu.

Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy, who was in Delhi, tried to speak to Naidu over phone but the latter did not respond. Reddy then spoke to TDP MP N. Nageswara Rao and through him requested Naidu to call off his fast.

Home Minister Sabitha Indra Reddy said Naidu was forcibly shifted to hospital from hunger strike camp at New MLA Quarters in view of his health condition. There was no other motive behind this, she said.

Protesting Naidu’s arrest, the main opposition party staged statewide demonstrations.

The day-long shutdown called by TDP passed off peacefully barring minor incidents of violence. The TDP activists damaged state-owned buses and forcibly downed shutters of shops and business establishments.

The shutdown was partially successful in Hyderabad. Buses went off the roads while educational institutions, shops and business establishments were closed.

Former chief minister Naidu, along with son Lokesh, and several TDP leaders were bodily lifted from the hunger strike camp amid high drama and tension around 4.30 a.m.

TDP protests immediately erupted in all 23 districts of the state after Naidu was arrested. TDP workers took to the streets, burnt effigies of the chief minister, stopped buses from coming out of depots and staged road blockades.

The CPI and the CPI-M supported the call.

“If necessary, we will move a no-confidence motion against the anti-farmer government in the state,” TDP leader P. Keshav said while leading a protest.

Naidu told TDP leaders who called on him that he would continue his fast unless the government gives a firm assurance to come to the rescue of farmers.

The TDP chief is on a fast for four days demanding that the government pay adequate compensation to farmers who lost their crops due to the recent rains.

NIMS director P.V. Ramesh told reporters that doctors were closely monitoring Naidu’s condition and said he should break the fast keeping his health in mind.

Naidu’s wife Bhuvaneswari, Rashtriya Lok Dal president Ajit Singh, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party president Bhim Singh and leaders of TDP, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) called on him at NIMS and expressed their solidarity.

Congress leader and former minister Mohammed Ali Shabbir termed Naidu’s fast as “ridiculous” and said that hundreds of farmers committed during his stint as chief minister (1995-2004).

Protests against Naidu’s arrest broke out in different parts of Tirupati, Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Guntur and other towns.

In Nalgonda district, protestors set afire offices of the agriculture department and mandap parishad development officer.

TDP leaders alleged that a leader who served as chief minister for nine years was ill treated by police. Television pictures showed an angry Naidu grabbing the hair of policemen when he was bodily lifted from the hunger strike camp.

At one point Naidu fell down when police personnel tried to put him on a stretcher amid utter chaos and protests by TDP leaders and workers. Police officers had a tough time in handling the situation as Naidu was protected by armed guards of the National Security Guard (NSG).

Naidu’s son Lokesh sustained minor injuries when policemen lifted him as he tried to resist his father’s arrest. Policemen were seen holding Lokesh by his collar to shift him to a waiting police vehicle. Several party leaders sustained bruises in the melee.

Filed under: Politics

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