YSR: A legendary leader and gem of a person
“Naalo-Naato-YSR” (YSR With Me, Within Me) is a book authored by Vijayamma, wife of late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. I have received a copy of the book from her. I am quoting here two paragraphs from the concluding part of the book
"Naalo-Naato-YSR" (YSR With Me, Within Me) is a book authored by Vijayamma, wife of late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy. I have received a copy of the book from her. I am quoting here two paragraphs from the concluding part of the book:
"To survive in politics, a daring and strong heart is essential. Even when you lose everything, you must be able to stand on your own promises. Be with the people who have put their belief in you, and they will reciprocate your affection abundantly. A great multitude of people are waiting to share their problems and concerns with you. Never neglect them, talk to them all." – YS Rajasekhara Reddy.
"Look, mom. So many people are literally worshipping father. I will also remain in the hearts of people with my good deeds. I will follow father's footsteps. As father used to say, "How long you live is not important. But how you have lived is crucial." – YS Jagan Mohana Reddy.
Among the many bourgeoisie political leaders that I had interacted, YS Rajasekhara Reddy stands out and I appreciated him all along for his great traits. But my party's political line and his do not go together. I do not confuse political differences with personal enmity. They are worlds apart. Any political formation has to devote itself to the interests of its constituency of people. Every political party claims that it stands for the larger interest of the people and they concretise these claims in their respective election manifestos. And if that political party gains power, they will proceed to implement their promises. But not all the promises might see the light of day. In the process, political one-upmanship might lead to friction and enmity among persons within the ruling formations and outside it. Instead of healthy competition in serving the people, what we are witnessing today is intrigues and scheming to bring down opponents and gain superiority. This enmity ultimately results in destroying the lives of political opponents and weakening the rival party. This has become the order of the day.
When Comrade Subbaiah, one of the foremost freedom fighters of Pondicherry was to be elected as the Chief Minister of Pondicherry, after it was liberated from French colonial rule and got merged with the Indian Union, Congress leader Kamaraj Nadar had resorted to horse-trading of MLAs to pre-empt Subbaiah becoming the Chief Minister. This is due to the desire of the Congress leaders that they only should rule from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
Nandini Satpathi was active in AISF in her college days. That is one reason why the Communist Party of India (CPI) extended support to her to become the Chief Minister of Orissa. But she and her party had encouraged defections from other parties to strengthen the Congress government in Orissa. But this had led to groupism in the ruling Congress in Orissa and ultimately she ended up as a loser. Later, Mulayam Singh in UP had encouraged defection from other parties to strengthen his position. A significant chunk of the CPI, including the State secretary of the party was bought by him. Because the Communist movement in Kerala was strong and had gone through glorious revolutionary struggles, defections were non-existent there. This had made other political parties, including the Congress to stick to some political values there. But the phenomenon of jumping fence had acquired an all-India character, mainly encouraged by leaders such as PV Narasimha Rao and took up on an ugly form in various States. This is the general political culture being practiced by political parties like the BJP, the Congress, the TDP, the YSRCP, the TRS etc.
"Forget the promises given to people and concentrate on securing your power by weakening the opponents," is the current political mantra. Extreme and senseless rivalries result from this kind of a culture. Against the background of this present culture, I feel it pertinent to mention YSR. Though he was elected as an MLA on the Old Congress ticket, in the process of reconciliation among the Congress factions, he had joined the Indira Congress and became an important leader. N Chandra Babu Naidu was also an Indira Congress MLA and he and YSR, both young leaders had had a strong bond of friendship. But when NTR had established the TDP, being his son-in-law, Babu had changed over to TDP. Babu and YSR, being in opposing political formations, had to oppose each other. But their personal friendship outlasted their rivalry.
I am talking about YSR and I should deliberate on my various interactions with him. Normal political culture is that politicians move closely with those that are successful and look the other way when the edifice of the other person is in ruins. "Nobody wants to take risks. But YSR was different. He himself ventured to talk to others who were in difficulties and did not hesitate to offer necessary help," was what Penna Pratap Reddy told me when YSR died in a helicopter crash. You can cite many instances where YSR went out of his way to help those in need.
Once when YSR was the Opposition leader, he came to Tirumala Hills and his over enthusiastic followers had fired crackers. A case was imposed on him for desecrating a holy place. Later on, as the Chief Minister, when he came to Tirumala Hills, he recognised one of his followers in the crowd and called him and talked to him. The very next day, he was allotted a space for a shop in the temple complex. A shop there is lucrative business. There are many such examples.
Since Independence, many projects had come up and were named after great persons. But no Communist leader had the privilege of getting a project named after him, posthumously. After the Congress came to power in AP in 2004, good relations existed among the Congress, the CPI and the CPIM. YSR's father Raja Reddy used to have good relations with veteran Communist leaders of Kadapa, like Comrade Y Eswar Reddy, Comrade S Sivarami Reddy and Comrade JV Venkatrami Reddy. YSR also had great respect for these veteran leaders and he once said that the first paper he had read was Visalandhra.
The CPI worked with dedication to achieve hydro-projects. The CPI had taken up a campaign and struggle for sharing of Krishna waters to Rayalaseema. AISF, AIYF and our peasant organisations had conducted glorious struggles. With this background, a CPI delegation met Chief Minister YSR and requested him to name the Velugodu Project in Kadapa District and Veligonda Project in Prakasham districts after comrades Y Eswar Reddy and Pula Subbaiah respectively. YSR agreed to our proposal readily as both these senior comrades had put immense efforts to bring the projects to reality. As CPI MLA, Subbaiah submitted a memorandum to the then Chief Minister NTR and appealed to him that Prakasam was a backward, water starved region and the CM should get the Veligonda project sanctioned.
(To be continued on Saturday)
The author is national secretary, the Communist Party of India. Views expressed are personal