13 Congress and TDP rebels join the indefinite fast

As many 35 legislators, including 13 Congress and TDP rebel MLAs who are facing disqualification, launched an indefinite fast along with YSR Congress honorary president Y.S. Vijayamma on Tuesday to protest against the hike in power tariff.

Besides Ms. Vijayamma, 16 MLAs and five MLCs of YSR Congress sat on fast at New MLA quarters.

Addressing party activists, Ms. Vijayamma launched a tirade against Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and his arch-rival and TDP leader N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Recalling that YSR did not increase the tariff, she said the State government had raised it four times in the last four years. She said the people were burdened to the tune of Rs.2,000 crore by power tariff hike and surcharges. She also faulted the State government for not properly implementing the free power scheme.

Joining issue with Mr. Chandrababu Naidu for claiming that power sector functioned well when TDP was in power, she accused him of having ruined the sector. There were frequent power cuts and the tariff was hiked as many as eight times during the nine-year TDP rule. She criticised the TDP for failing to support the no-trust vote against the government in the recent Assembly session and described Mr. Naidu as a betrayer.

Ms. Vijayamma said her party would always stand by the people and strive to fulfil their aspirations. She said the people would teach a lesson to the Congress and the TDP at the appropriate time.

Braving a heavy downpour in the evening, the legislators continued with the fast. Earlier, Ms. Vijayamma garlanded the statue of YSR at Punjagutta and paid homage to those killed in police firing at Bashirbagh.

Meanwhile, police arrested three fasting BJP legislators, including State unit president G. Kishan Reddy, and shifted them to Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in the evening.

The BJP leaders had been on hunger strike for the past four days.

Amidst resistance, pushing and jostling by the party activists at Old MLA Quarters, the venue of the fast, the police took away Mr. Reddy, E. Lakshminarayana and Y.Srinivas Reddy in an ambulance to NIMS. Mr. Kishan Reddy, however, declared that they would continue the fast at the hospital. Resenting the arrests, BJP called for State-wide protests in all mandal headquarters on Wednesday.

Earlier, TDP leader N.Rajakumari and senior BJP leaders, N. Indrasena Reddy, B. Dattatreya and Ch.Vidyasagar Rao visited the venue and expressed solidarity with the fasting legislators.

Earlier, Mr. Dattatreya and several BJYM activists were arrested when they tried to lay siege to Secretariat.