A sense of resignation prevails among the devotees of Sathya Sai Baba and residents of this town.

It has been 26 days since the 85-year-old Sai Baba was hospitalised with complaints of chest and lung congestion, and his condition has been steadily deteriorating, barring a few episodes of improvement.Whilst nursing the hope that his health would be restored, the devotees are prepared for any eventuality.

On Friday, Sai Baba's clinical parameters were found to be, by and large, the same as what they were the previous evening when his condition was described by doctors as “very critical”.

“There is no sign of change in his health condition. He continues to be in the same critical state of health,” a medical bulletin said.

Sai Baba's health was reviewed at a meeting attended by Director of Medical Education Ravi Raj, Director of Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSIHMS) A.N. Safaya, Andhra Pradesh Minister for Major Industries J. Geeta Reddy, District Collector B. Janardhan Reddy and specialists from the United States.

Surgeries deferred

The SSIHMS, which performs as many as 10 heart surgeries a day, has deferred all such operations ever since Sai Baba was admitted to the institute.

Mobile television screens have been brought from Hyderabad and parked outside the town. Mobile power generators have also been requisitioned.

Although the number of pilgrims has thinned out, the town is overflowing with police and media personnel. Police reinforcements, comprising more than 3,000 men and women, brought from the neighbouring districts of Kurnool, Anantapur and Chittoor, have taken up positions at all strategic locations in and around Prashanthi Nilayam, main ashram of Sai Baba.

Mediapersons, in their hundreds, have been waiting outside the gate of the hospital, keen to capture visuals of VIPs and get hold of intermittent press releases on Sai Baba's health.

The Puttaparthy police arrested one Shiva Sai Swamy of Karnataka's Chikkaballapur district.

He had squatted on the road near the hospital gates in a bid to stage a dharna when the police prevented his entry into the hospital.