YSR: Man of masses

Dr Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy
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Dr Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy

Highlights

Dr Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, is an astute politician and a charismatic mass leader who had carved a niche for himself in State politics. It was a long political journey for him starting as youth leader right from his student days to become the 14th chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh in May 2004.

Dr Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, popularly known as YSR, is an astute politician and a charismatic mass leader who had carved a niche for himself in State politics. It was a long political journey for him starting as youth leader right from his student days to become the 14th chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh in May 2004.

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. He was known as one-rupee doctor in the area and had earned a good name. He is one person who used to strike a personal chord with many people from the constituency. He used to call his followers by their name put his hand on their shoulders and talk to them with a smile on his face.

There are many instances when he used to not only give a patient hearing to the woes of people from his constituency but also give them money for their food and return journey. He was known for taking instant decisions on important issues for the uplift of the poor particularly in the backward region of Rayalaseema.

Born on July 8, 1949, in Pulivendula, YSR emerged as a dynamic leader during his heydays. His family established one polytechnic and one degree college in Pulivendula, which were later handed over to the well-known Loyola group of institutions.

Rajasekhara Reddy's sound business acumen, entrepreneurial skills brought him laurels in the business arena. He entered active politics in 1978. During his 25-year-long political career, YSR had served the people in multiple capacities, both in Government as well as in Party.

He was President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) twice - 1983-1985 and 1998-2000. During 1980-1983, he was a minister holding important portfolios related to Rural Development, Medical & Health and Education etc. From 1999 to 2004 he was the Leader of Opposition in the eleventh state assembly.

He was perhaps the only chief minister who despite being an important member of the Indian National Congress governed the state more as regional chief minister and made the high command endorse his decisions. Interestingly, his arch rival in politics and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu was his onetime buddy. They were close friends, and both were youth leaders in Congress.

Another great quality of YSR as he was popularly called was the he never nursed a grudge against those who did not agree with his line of thinking and used to give scope for intense discussion and debate but finally his word would prevail. He was open to criticism provided there was reason and logic what others said. As an administrator he was tough man. Once a decision was taken, there was no going back. Some of his detractors used to say that this shows his trait of the region to which he belonged. Rayalaseema is known to be a faction region.

As a champion of the masses, he used to make his point vociferously during debates. He is known for highlighting issues facing the farmers, weavers, Dalits, youth and women.

Even as a novice in the legislature, YSR rallied all the Congress MLAs from the Rayalaseema region and led an indefinite hunger strike demanding solution to the water crisis. He also led a Paadayaatra from Lepakshi to Pothireddipadu in Kurnool district.

His relentless fight for clearance of pending irrigation projects, particularly in the backward Rayalaseema region, has earned for him a special place in the hearts of millions of farmers.

(To be continued)

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