Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy (8 July 1949 – 2 September 2009), popularly known as YSR, was a two-time Chief Minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. His popularity is often attributed to various welfare schemes and development programs he championed for the people of his state. In the words of Yahoo ‘YSR was a mass leader who ruled the hearts of people in Andhra Pradesh’. The BBC called him a champion of social welfare schemes.
He was elected to the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Lok Sabha from the Kadapa constituency for four terms and to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly for five terms from the Pulivendula constituency. His candidature won every election he contested. In 2003 he undertook a three-month-long paadayaatra, or walking tour of 1475 km during the very hot summer months, across several districts in Andhra Pradesh as a part of his election campaign. He led his party to victory in the following general and assembly elections held in 2004. He repeated the feat in 2009. He is the only chief minister of AP to have come back to power after being in office for a full term.
On 2 September 2009, a helicopter carrying Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy went missing in the Nallamala forest area. On the morning of 3 September 2009, media reported that the helicopter wreckage had been found on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Kurnool. This was later confirmed by the Prime Minister’s office. Five people aboard this ill fated helicopter were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. Rumors and conspiracy theories about a highly influential Indian business tycoon’s involvement in his untimely death exist.
Personal Life and Religious beliefs
YS Rajasekhar Reddy was married to Vijaya Lakshmi. They have a son, Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and a daughter, Sharmila. Jagan Mohan Reddy is a former INC politician. He currently runs his own political party named Y.S.R. Congress (Yuvajana Sramika Raithu). Mr. Jagan Mohan Reddy recently contested and won the Kadapa Lok Sabha by-election with a record 5 lakh plus majority. YSR’s younger brother Y. S. Vivekananda Reddy is also a Congress(I) politician.
Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s parents were devout Christians as was he and he was buried according to Christian rites. Dr.Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy visited Bethlehem and other historically important Christian places in Israel twice. He was a regular devotee of Tirumala, and visited Tirupati regularly.
Son of late Sri YS Raja Reddy, a dynamic leader in his heyday, Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy evinced interest in politics right from his student days. While studying in MR Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka, he served as president of the Students union. He was elected leader of the House Surgeon’s Association in SV Medical College, Tirupati.
After completing MBBS, he served as Medical Officer at the Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital for a brief period. In 1973, he established a 70-bed charitable hospital, named after his father late YS Raja Reddy at Pulivendula.His family also built and ran a degree college and a Polytechnic college in Pulivendula. These educational institutes were later handed over to the Loyola Group of Educational Institutions. A junior college in Simhadripuram, near Pulivendula, is run by his family. Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy is the only congress chief minister to complete his entire tenure (2004–2009)without any interruption.
- Minister of state for rural development (1980–82)
- Excise minister (1982)
- Education minister (1982–83)
- Leader of Opposition, Andhra Pradesh State Assembly (1999–2004)
- Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (2004–2009)
- Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (20-May-2009 To 02-Sep-2009)
As Chief Minister
During his tenure as CM,the government of Andhra Pradesh under took the following projects :
- Providing free electricity as promised for farmers was initiated on the very first day of his tenure as CM in 2004.
- Rajiv Arogya Shree – A health insurance program for rural population below poverty line (white card holders). This insurance program pays the entire cost of any necessary surgery to a maximum of Rs.200,000.
- Emergency service- Free public ambulance service. This service was originally started by Satyamand later adopted by government of A.P
- Pavala Vaddi — a program that provides loans at 3% per anum interest rate, designed to encourage small scale businesses and entrepreneurship primarily targeted at rural women.
- Indiramma illu — a program for construction of heavily subsidized housing for the rural poor.
- Rs 2/KG of rice scheme
- Increase in the minimum support price for rice.
- Reimbursement of full college fees for backward sections. Reservations for minorities.
- The main emphasis during his tenure was on social welfare with a majority of his projects targeted at reducing rural povery. Apart from these schemes, his government stood as the role model in implementing the central governments flagship program – the NREGA. The BBC has called him a champion of social welfare schemes.
- His tenure also saw significant weakening of the violent extremist left-wing Naxalite movement that was rampant in the state when he assumed office in 2004.
- During his era Andhra Pradesh achieved a growth rate of more than 6% every year. Poverty levels reduced to 16% in Andhra Pradesh while the national average was 23%.
Jala Yagnam-To irrigate 1,00,00,000 acres of land through construction of major, medium and minor irrigation projects. The program helped Andhra Pradesh make significant progress in areas of Sustainable Agriculture by making wastelands cultivable.
Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s major campaign slogan for the 2009 election was “Development and Credibility”. He sought a mandate based on his past performance. He made no new election promises but vowed to continue and extend various ongoing schemes. The opposition parties had formed a ‘Grand alliance’ (mahakootami) comprising all the major opposition parties including, Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the communist parties. The TDP promised numerous inducements including free color televisions and the unique cash transfer scheme (CTS). There was also a new party Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) floated by a popular film star Chiranjeevi. Congress under the leadership of Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy won the contest and came to power for a second time.
Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s party (INC) won 156 seats in the assembly while requiring 148 for a simple majority. Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s party also won 33 seats in parliament out of a total of 42 seats. This feat was seen as a very big victory for Dr.Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy since he was able to come back to power for the second consecutive term against the odds of anti-incumbency. He became the Congress party’s first chief minister since 1969, that is, in four decades, to be able to seek votes based on his performance, and win.
YS Rajasekhar Reddy was sworn in as the chief minister for the term of 2009–2014 on 20 May 2009. The ceremony was held in Hyderabad’s Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium and was attended by a crowd of around 20,000 people.
The surrender of more than 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of personal land by Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy to the government to be compliant with the law in December 2006 was criticized by the opposition parties. The opposition parties demanded his resignation for owning the land in violation of the law. Naidu also called for Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s resignation after a 2007 Khammam police shooting resulted in eight deaths.
Y. S. Rajasekhara Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s Bell 430 helicopter went missing on Wednesday, 2 September 2009 at 9:35 am. Begumpet and Shamshabad Air Traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft at 10:02 am while it was passing through the dense Nallamala forest area. The Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, P. Ramakanth Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy, said that inclement weather had forced the helicopter off-course. Although the sparsely populated forest area is considered to be stronghold of the outlawed Naxal communist insurgents, the National Security Advisor of India ruled out the possibility of the Naxals bringing down the helicopter.
The Indian Prime Minister’s Office confirmed the helicopter’s crash on the morning of 3 September and the death of all aboard, including YS Rajasekhar Reddy, his special secretary P. Subrahmanyam, chief security officer A. S. C. Wesley, Group Captain S. K. Bhatia and Captain M. S. Reddy . The Director General of Police said that the bodies of YS Rajasekhar Reddy and others were charred beyond recognition and had to be identified on the basis of clothing. The autopsy of all the bodies was carried out at Kurnool Medical College.
An investigation eventually concluded that the factors that caused that crash included the fact that the crew became fixated for more than six minutes about a problem with their transmission oil pressure system, and were distracted from the worsening weather. It was also noted that the pilots of the helicopter never discussed the bad weather, diverting, or returning to base.
YS Rajasekhar Reddy‘s body was buried on 4 September at Idupulapai in Kadapa district with full state honors in accordance with Christian rites.
Over a 624 people reportedly committed suicide hearing the news of his death and a some died of heart attack.
Then Finance Minister Konijeti Rosaiah was sworn in as Chief Minister following his death.
Six months after his death, His son began a condolence tour (Odarpu Yatra) to go and meet the families of those who either allegedly committed suicide or died of shock after hearing the death of his father Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy. The Congress party’s central leadership directed Jagan(Dr. Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s son) to call off his Odarpu Yatra which he defied. His “Odarpu Yatra” was a big success and established Jagan as a major political force in AP politics. On November 29, 2010, Jagan resigned from the Congress Party. Y.S.Jagan Mohan Reddy announced on 7 December 2010 from Pulivendula that he would be starting a new party within 45 days. On February 16 YSR Congress Party came into existence with Jagan as its president.
The by-election for the seats left vacant due to the resignations of Y. S. Vijayamma(Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s wife) and Y. S. Jaganmohan Reddy(Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy‘s son) were held on May 8, 2011. The son and mother duo contested the elections on behalf of the newly formed YSR Congress Party.
Jagan Mohan Reddy bettered the 4.2 lakh vote margin registered by his father . Mr. Jaganmohan Reddy secured 6.9 lakh votes, more than 65 per cent of the total votes polled. He won with a majority of 5.45 lakh votes(545,043 votes) over his nearest rival, Health Minister D.L. Ravindra Reddy, who secured 1.46 lakh votes. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) nominee M.V. Mysoora Reddy came third with 1.29 lakh votes. Both his rivals and 39 independents forfeited their deposits.In Pulivendula, Ms. Vijayamma secured a record 81,373 votes margin, surpassing her husband’s 68,681 vote margin in the 2009 elections. She humbled her nearest Congress rival and brother-in-law Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, who got a little more than 28,000 votes.TDP candidate M. Ravindranath Reddy, with 12,000 votes, remained a distant third. The nominees of these parties and 22 independents could not retain their deposits.
The victory is seen as a personal triumph for the 37-year-old leader, who termed the election “a battle between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and self-respect of the people of Kadapa.”