Of few men can it be more aptly said that some people never die. Such immortal souls live through their work, their ideals and accomplishments.
September 2nd marks the death anniversary of the late Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. It is difficult to think of him as someone who is no more, considering the fact that wherever we go we find him immortalized in every single village, town and city across the length and breadth of Andhra Pradesh. His smiling face remains etched in our hearts and flashes on the mind's screen each time the ubiquitous (108) ambulance goes by with its siren wailing.
Who else but a visionary of his stature could have thought of pension for the old, without which they would be reduced to indigent paupers with no means of subsistence? Or raising the meager dole that was being dished out to the disabled?
YSR's pioneering Jala Yagnam irrigation project that helped the growth of sustainable agriculture would have turned AP into the 'Swarna Andhra Pradesh' that he envisioned it to be, had it been carried through as planned.
The doctor in him saw the decline of government hospitals during the TDP era and the growing healthcare needs of a population weighed down by poverty. He unveiled the Rajiv Arogya Shree heatlth insurance programme for BPL families through which they could avail themselves of free treatment (or surgery) up to a maximum limit of Rs 2 lakhs!
Another pet project of his was the Indiramma housing scheme, which gave millions of homeless across rural Andhra Pradesh a roof over their heads. It was a housing scheme that was unprecedented in terms of its scale and magnitude.
Dr YSR's two rupees' a kg rice scheme gave sustenance to millions of the poor and deprived and ensured that no one in the state was denied minimal means of subsistence.
And most importantly, the one scheme that's now creating a storm in the state, thanks to the present government's initiative that lacks any vision — the fee reimbursement scheme.
During the YSR era, the scheme provided full reimbursement of the college tuition fee for the underprivileged. This is one of the reasons why the late chief minister became hugely popular and respected among all segments of the population.
All his schemes were aimed at providing social welfare to ensure that every citizen in the state was not deprived of his basic necessities — food clothing and shelter. Sadly however, after the tragic demise of the people-friendly leader, his schemes failed to take off the way it was intended to. All his brilliant schemes are being watered down by the present government that doesn't care to understand the importance and utility of such measures. Many still recall how the release of funds for health insurance was fast-tracked during the time of Dr Rajasekhara Reddy. Unfortunately, Arogya Shree too has suffered at the hands of the new Congress leaders.
The current state of affairs in the state clearly reflects the fact that the present leaders lack the muscle to push the Centre to help the state. All they can do is politicise every trivial issue to gain undue mileage.
When one looks back at the political history in the state, one can conclude that Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy is undoubtedly the tallest leader the state had ever seen. During the time of NTR, it was believed that he was the most popular chief minister AP had known. However, later realisation dawned upon people that while NTR achieved fame because of his cinema background, YSR on the other hand achieved popularity through his pioneering schemes aimed at alleviating the suffering of the downtrodden. Perhaps this is why no other congress leader in the state enjoyed such widespread acclaim in the Muslim community as much as YSR, who is hailed for his fee reimbursement scheme, which helped the poorest cart-vendor or daily wage-earner to send his children to professional colleges to pursue higher education. No wonder, the minorities remember him as a messiah who showed them light at the end of a dark tunnel!
Many projects that were envisioned by the late chief minister have been diluted by the leaders at the helm of affairs in the state. It is this factor that has led YS Jaganmohan Reddy to promise to the people his commitment to realizing the dreams of the late Dr. YSR.
The actions of the YSRCP need to be seen in this context. Be it the recent call for bandh by Jagan to stage a peaceful protest against the power crisis in the state or even the three-day deeksha undertaken by Vijayamma to fight on behalf of the underprivileged students — it's clearly evident that the YSRC party is determined to fight for the cause of the underprivileged!