Jagan Reddy, now in hospital, wants hunger strike to adrenalise voters

Jagan Mohan Reddy brought to a hospital in Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Wearing a red T-shirt and escorted by a dozen jail officials and cops, Jagan Mohan Reddy entered a hospital in Hyderabad just before midnight on Thursday. He waved and acknowledged his supporters, putting his right hand to his heart, to a large crowd that had gathered for a glimpse of the man who has been in prison since May last year for alleged corruption.

After being admitted, Mr Reddy, 40, refused to accept intravenous fluids. He has been on a fast for six days now, in protest against the decision to turn Telangana, one of the three regions of Andhra Pradesh, into India's 29th state.

Doctors at the Osmania Hospital said his sugar levels are low, but his blood pressure and pulse are fine.

Mr Reddy's father, YSR Reddy, the hugely-popular chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, died in 2009.

For Mr Reddy, the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is a chance to inscribe a new wave of support in Rayalaseema, the family stronghold. Here, and in Coastal Andhra, there is blazing resentment of the bifurcation of the state, not least because after 10 years, the IT hub of Hyderabad will stop being a shared capital between the old state and the new one of Telangana.

The Congress, the party that his father belonged to and that Mr Reddy quit in 2010, hopes to sweep the 21 parliamentary seats in Telangana. For Mr Reddy, his hunger strike is a way of appealing to voters in the other two regions who will elect another 21 seats between them.

His fast forced him to forego a jail visit or "mulaqat" with his wife on their wedding anniversary on Wednesday. The privilege could not be sanctioned because prison rules ban hunger strikes.

Recent by-elections in the state have shown his party, the YSR Congress, gaining ground. The fact that all his state legislators and parliamentarians have resigned to protest against the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh have made them popular in the 13 districts of "Seemandhra" - the non-Telangana regions.