LAKHS of people jostled to have a glimpse of Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy during his final journey on September 4 and pay their tributes to a man who literally walked into their hearts by his pro-poor policies, never mind his earlier image of being a faction leader.
Such a gathering of humanity was last seen on January 18, 1996, when millions turned out for the funeral of the charismatic N.T. Rama Rao, founder of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and former Chief Minister. YSR enjoyed a similar following ever since his 1,500-km padayatra in May 2003, which helped bring the Congress back to power a year later.
An acknowledgement of his charisma and sway over the masses came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, All India Congress Committee (AICC) president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi when they came to Hyderabad to console YSRs family wife Vijayalakshmi, son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and daughter Sharmila. The Prime Minister wrote in the condolence register: The country has lost an outstanding leader.
Sonia Gandhi termed YSR a visionary and progressive leader who strove for the uplift of the poor. Rahul Gandhi wrote: YSR was a true leader from whom I have personally learnt a lot. He is an inspiration for all those who would like to impact the lives of the poor.
If crowds filled the Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium in Hyderabad, where the Chief Ministers body was placed in a flower-bedecked coffin, a sea of humanity waited outside his Idupulapaya estate in his native Pulivendula village in Kadapa district. Even Chief Minister K. Rosaiah had a tough time reaching the burial spot.
Tearful mourners were all over the sprawling estate surrounded by hills as the mortal remains of YSR were laid to rest amid prayers by Christian priests and shouts of YSR Zindabad. For miles around the estate, traffic came to a halt and several important people, including Leader of the Opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu and president of the Praja Rajyam Party K. Chiranjeevi, could not make it, stuck as they were in their vehicles. They had to return without attending the funeral.
Idupulapaya was YSRs favourite place, as he personally nurtured the orchards and teak trees over the years.
As Chief Minister he gave up about 400 hectares of the land in the estate when a controversy erupted over its ownership. The estate has seen guests such as Sonia Gandhi, who visited the place when she inaugurated an Indian Institute of Information Technology in Kadapa last year.
There was a spontaneous bandh that stretched for two days in the State and all activity came to a halt.Suresh Krishnamoorthy