Jagan, Naidu on fast for farmers; PM announces relief

PM Manmohan Singh announced a Rs 400 crore relief package for Andhra farmers hit by heavy rains.

Updated: Dec 22, 2010, 00:27 AM IST

Vijayawada: In his first show of strength since leaving the Congress party last month, YS Jaganmohan Reddy Tuesday launched a 48-hour fast along with over 100,000 farmers, demanding relief for the crops lost in recent rains.

The former Kadapa MP, who turns 38 Tuesday, began the fast along with his supporters on the banks of Krishna River near Prakasam Barrage.
The son of the late Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy reached the venue after offering prayers at the Durga temple in this town of Krishna district in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The young leader, who quit the Congress party and also resigned from the Kadapa Lok Sabha seat accusing the leadership of dividing his family, reached the town in the morning by Prashanti Express to a warm welcome by his supporters.

Hundreds of people reached the fast venue from different parts of coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and even Telangana.

Soon after his arrival at the venue, Jagan, as the young leader is popularly known, garlanded a statue of his father on a massive dais. Prominent supporters sat on the 100-feet long, 50-feet wide and 10-feet high dais with massive cutouts of the late chief minister and of Jagan in the backdrop.

Those sitting on the dais included nine state legislators, several former ministers and MPs who joined Jagan camp recently. Former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and actress Roja and TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao`s widow Lakshmi Parvathi were amongst seated beside Jagan.

Jagan, who has already announced his plans to float a new party in 45 days, has gone all out to make the fast a massive show of strength. The organisers said the open space in front of the dais can accommodate 175,000 people.

After the rains early this month caused huge crops loss, Jagan had visited Guntur, Krishna and East Godavari districts to call on farmers. His tour had also sent ripples in the ruling Congress party with a section of party leaders, including two legislators, joining his camp.

Jagan`s action, however, has drawn criticism from his uncle and minister for agriculture Y. S. Vivekananda Reddy, who claimed that the package announced by the government for farmers last week was the best in the country.

Jagan began the 48-hour fast at a time when the leader of opposition and former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is also on fast for five days, demanding a fair deal for farmers.
The TDP chief, who was arrested Monday, was continuing his indefinite fast at Nizam`s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS) in Hyderabad.

Meanwhile, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu continued his indefinite fast in a hospital here even as doctors have warned that his condition may further deteriorate.

The fast, demanding a relief package for farmers affected by recent rains, entered fifth day Tuesday.

The leader of opposition, who was arrested from the hunger strike camp at New MLA Quarters early Monday and shifted to Nizam`s Institute of Medical Sciences (NIMS), has refused to end the fast till the government accepts his demands.

Naidu`s personal physician B. Somaraju Tuesday examined him. He told reporters outside NIMS that his condition had deteriorated as he was neither taking fluids nor undergoing treatment.

He said the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief`s condition may further deteriorate if he continued his fast.

The leader is demanding that the government declare the crop loss in recent rains a national calamity, pay a compensation of Rs.10,000 per acre for food crop and Rs.15,000 for commercial crop damaged in the rains.

Terming the package announced by the government as meagre, the TDP chief Friday launched the indefinite fast.

For the second consecutive day, the TDP has called for protests across the state against Naidu`s arrest.

A delegation of party leaders will visit Delhi Tuesday to meet union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to brief them about Naidu`s condition and his demands to solve farmers` problems.
TDP legislator E. Dayakar Rao told reporters that the party would intensify its protest if the government failed to respond positively to their demands. "With the support of other opposition parties we will bring the administration to a standstill," he said.

Taking note of the situation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a Rs.400 crore relief package for farmers in Andhra Pradesh badly hit by heavy rains damaging their crops.

The announcement came amid protests by opposition leaders in the state demanding relief for farmers. Telugu Desam Party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu`s fast demanding relief package for farmers entered the fifth day Tuesday.

Former Congress MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, the son of former chief minister Y.S.R Reddy, also launched a 48-hour fast Tuesday demanding adequate relief.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including L.K. Advani, have written to the prime minister seeking relief for farmers in 15 districts of state that had witnessed excessive rains.

IANS