Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's condition is "very critical" and "grave", Apollo Hospitals said on Monday, as AIADMK MLAs trooped to the hospital apparently to pick a successor.
In quick succession, Apollo hospital released two statements saying Jayalalithaa, who suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday evening, was on life support systems.
The first of the statement came just after union Health Minister J.P. Nadda claimed that the actor-turned-politician, who has been in hospital since September, was out of danger.
The brief hospital statement said Jayalalithaa "continues to be very critical and is on ECMO and other life support systems".
ECMO or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation is a life support system used for patients with life threatening heart or lung problems.
Apollo said she was being treated and closely monitored by experts.
Hours later, Apollo tweeted: "Despite our best efforts, our beloved CM remains in a grave situation."
In between the two statements, Richard Beale from the London Bridge Hospital, who has been regularly consulted by doctors in Chennai, said the situation for Jayalalithaa was "extremely grave".
"I can confirm that everything possible is being done to give her the best chance of surviving (the cardiac arrest)," he added.
On Monday, all AIADMK legislators made their way to the Apollo hospital, which has turned into a virtual fortress with hundreds of police personnel trying to keep at bay the thousands of Jayalalithaa fans.
An AIADMK source told IANS that the MLAs were in hall in the Apollo complex but refused to get into details. There is speculation that the party is looking at a successor to Jayalalithaa.
Crowds have been gathering outside the hospital from Sunday evening as news of Jayalalithaa's cardiac arrest spread like a wild fire causing gloom.
"Our doctors are closely monitoring (her) condition and they are trying their very best," tweeted Apollo Hospitals Joint Managing Director Sangita Reddy on Sunday.
Maharashtra Governor C. Vidyasagar Rao, who has additional charge of Tamil Nadu, visited the hospital on Sunday night.
But he did not issue any statement after his hospital visit. On earlier occasions, Raj Bhavan used to issue statements each time he visited the hospital.
Apollo said on Sunday evening that Jayalalithaa "is being treated and monitored by a team of experts including cardiologists, pulmonologist and the critical care specialists".
In an another tweet, the hospital said: "The Hon'ble CM is the beloved leader of the masses. Please join us in praying for her speedy recovery. #GodblessAmma #Jayalalithaa."
Security has been stepped up across the sprawling state where Jayalalithaa enjoys widespread support.
Many people gathered outside the hospital, mostly from the poorer sections, broke down as they collected behind police barricades. Some men and women, their hands folded, offered silent prayers.
A few who tried to enter the hospital were restrained. Supporters also flashed posters and photographs of Jayalalithaa, who for decades has been the undisputed leader of the AIADMK.
Special prayers were offered in places of worships in Krishnagiri, Trichy, Tuticorin, Erode, Kanchipuram, Dharmapuri, Sivaganga and Coimbatore.
Some parts of Chennai experienced shortages of milk as traders jacked up prices fearing a shutdown.
President Pranab Mukherjee joined the political class in wishing Jayalalithaa a speedy recovery.
"My prayers for her speedy recovery," said a post on the President's Twitter account.
DMK chief M. Karunanidhi and his son and party leader M.K. Stalin also conveyed their best wishes for her recovery.
"I hope she gets better very soon," said Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressed her concern. "May God bless her."
"Maharashtra prays for her speedy recovery," posted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. Rajasthan counterpart Vasundhara Raje tweeted: "May she recover soon."
RJD chief Lalu Prasad said: "Totally worried... Let's all pray for her."
Apollo Hospital had days ago said she was on the road to recovery and she could take a decision on going home.
Meanwhile, authorities in Kerala strengthened security on the border with Tamil Nadu. Police were put on alert in Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Idukki and Palakkad districts that border Tamil Nadu.
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