Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu staged a 12-hour 'Dharma Porata Deeksha' from 7 am on Friday, demanding justice to the state from the Centre, including grant of Special Category Status. He wound up his fast at 7 pm.
The chief minister, who turned 69 on Friday, chose not to celebrate his birthday and sat on a fast instead to protest against the alleged injustice meted out to the state due to the 'non-implementation' of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Naidu began the fast in Vijayawada at 7 in the morning, after seeking the blessings of priests and religious leaders.
He paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and Jyotirao Phule by garlanding their portraits.
Several ministers in his government joined Naidu in the fast, which was held in all 13 districts of the state.
State ministers led the protest in the district headquarters. Assembly Speaker Kodela Sivaprasada Rao observed the deeksha in his hometown Narsaraopet, lying on a bed as he was sick.
Telugu Desam Party legislators and party in-charge of 175 assembly constituencies also led similar protests in their respective segments in solidarity with Naidu.
Opposition parties dubbed the fast as a 'sham and farce' that only bled the state exchequer of crores of rupees.
Principal opposition Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress alleged that Rs eight crore of public money was spent on the deeksha.
"The deeksha ended up only as an extravagant entertainer and was not for securing special category status to the state," YSRC MLA R K Roja said.
It was only a farce and a meek attempt by the chief minister to secure lost ground, she added.
Congress state president N Raghuveera Reddy said it was not a deeksha, but an event.
"Is this a government or a private estate? Crores of rupees of public money was spent in the name of the deeksha but people are laughing over the way it was conducted," he told reporters in Amaravati.
Thousands of people from Krishna, Guntur and West Godavari districts arrived in Vijayawada in hundreds of state Road Transport Corporation buses to 'express solidarity' with the chief minister.
Film star and Hindupur MLA Nandamuri Balakrishna 'who is also brother-in-law of the Chief minister' lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he had 'betrayed' Andhra Pradesh.
"The war has started now..the prime minister has betrayed Andhra Pradesh. He is indulging in murky politics in the state, despite the fact that BJP will not win a single seat in the state," he said.
The BJP took strong exception to the actor-MLA's outburst and demanded an apology.
'He should wash his mouth with acid. Balakrishna's speech indicated that he has gone mad. He should be housed in a mental hospital,' state BJP spokesman Satyamurthy said in a statement.
The TDP had recently walked out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance after the Centre rejected its demand for according special category status.