Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu launched a day-long fast on his birthday on Friday to protest against the "indifferent" attitude of the Narendra Modi-led Central government and its refusal to grant special category status to the state.
Currently undergoing in Vijayawada, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president's fast is an attempt to pressurise the Central government to fulfill all commitments made at the time of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Naidu, who turned 68 on Friday will fast till 7 pm, reports said.
Live from Dharma Porata Deeksha https://t.co/VBcGHOa7Bc
" N Chandrababu Naidu (@ncbn) April 20, 2018
Addressing the Telugu Desam Party coordination committee meeting in Vijayawada on Monday, Naidu had asked 13 ministers to lead the protest in each district.
The remaining nine ministers will be joining the chief minister in Vijayawada. "All MLAs and in-charges of 175 Assembly segments should organise mass hunger-strike in their respective constituencies in solidarity with my fast," the TDP chief had said.
He had also directed party leaders to organise bicycle rallies in all constituencies from 21 April to highlight his government's "victories". Public meetings should be held in all constituency headquarters, he had said.
The move is seen as a step to wrest initiative from Opposition YSR Congress, whose MPs quit from their posts on the special category status issue, according to The New Indian Express.
The chief minister also wrote an open letter asking the people of Andhra Pradesh to support the "satyagraha", reported The Times of India. He urged people from the state including those who have moved abroad, to participate in the day-long Dharma Porata Deeksha (fight for justice) and express gratitude for the motherland.
Naidu made his announcement to fast on 14 April. It came close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's day-long hunger strike on 12 April to protest the disruption of the Parliament. "Is it not the Central government which is responsible for the Parliament not functioning smoothly?" Naidu had asked.
The second half of the Budget Session of the Parliament was washed out due to protests by various parties including the TDP, which sought to move a no-confidence motion against the government after pulling out of BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Naidu's decision to sit on fast came amid ongoing protests by various political parties in the state against the Centre for not fulfilling its promises.
At a meeting in Guntur district on 14 April, Naidu said there would be no compromise on the state's rights.
He also announced that a massive public meeting would be organized at Tirupati on 30 April with the slogan "save the state from betrayal and conspiracy", recalling that it was in the same temple that four years ago, Modi, as the prime ministerial candidate, had promised special status but did not fulfill it after coming to power.
Lashing out both at BJP and the opposition parties YSR Congress and Congress, Naidu also appealed to the people to ensure the victory of TDP in all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the state in 2019.
He recalled that the TDP played a key role in government formation at the Centre in the past. "We played a key role in the National Front, United Front and the NDA-I," he said.
The chief minister was speaking at a meeting at Sakhamuru in Guntur district after unveiling the model of Dr BR Ambedkar memorial park, proposed to be built at a cost of Rs 100 crore on 20 acres. Naidu said that the 125-feet tall statue of Ambedkar will come up in the proposed park, which will also have a research centre. He vowed to complete the project in 18 months.
With inputs from agencies