By Reshmi AR
Few days in the the calendar of the year are worth remembering. And that is because very few individuals leave an indelible imprint on the lives of others. Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy was one such titan of an individual who blazed upon the socio-political firmament of his period leaving an abiding impression in the hearts of millions of people.
To this day, Dr YSR is remembered by the masses constantly, virtually, every single day. Few rulers touch the lives of the people they represent in the endearing way in which he did.
This day marks the birth anniversary of Dr. YS Rajashekhara Reddy. If there was one common strand which ran through the fabric of the society of undivided Andhra Pradesh weaving it as a unified whole, it was the adulation people had for Dr YSR.
For the poor man on the street, he was one of their own, who empathised with their condition and could relate to their day-to-day difficulties.
To this day, the name YSR rings a bell in terms of its association with a range of welfare schemes which he implemented to alleviate the suffering of the masses. The state thrived on the success of his people-friendly schemes that were flagship programs implemented during the YSR regime.
Arogyasri, the Jala Yagnam project that promised to bring water to the most arid,parched regions of the state, fee reimbursement for the poor students, pension schemes for widows, the disabled and the elderly, loan waivers for farmers, free power supply—his welfare-driven model of governance was a boon to the people of the state, especially farmers. No wonder then that the people who hugely benefited from his plans still remain loyal and indebted to him.
They continue to shower immeasurable love and affection upon the YSR family, especially his son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, long after the sad demise of their beloved leader who strove to work towards the upliftment of the poor in the state.
He was the first politician in the state to have pioneered the concept of padayatra Praja Prasthanam, covering the length and breadth of the state in his massive outreach programme which powered the Congress party to victory. When YSR set out on his walkathon, 'praja prasthanam' to the hot remote regions of Andhra Pradesh in scorching heat, he gathered first hand information on the problems faced by people. And once he became Chief Minister, his first job was to offer a solution to all their problems, to an extent that no leader in power earlier or since, has done.
One should not gloss over the fact that the power enjoyed by congress in subsequent years following his untimely demise was a result of YSR's hard work. This is more than evident in the fact that the Congress party lost its pre-eminent position in both the Telugu speaking states after YSR. In his time he had revived the fortunes of a party that had been completely wiped out and would have met a thorough drubbing at the hustings in 2004 had he not stepped in and reached out to the people in his own inimitable style.
The people of Andhra Pradesh know that no matter how YSR's schemes are rechristened (to erase his memory) it was Dr YSR who delivered to them a welfare state that others had not even promised, leave alone acted upon.
Today, the people of Andhra Pradesh will light a million candles in their hearts for a leader they can never forget.