Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy

8 Jul 1949
2 Sep 2009
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Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara (8 July 1949 – 2 September 2009), popularly known as YSR, was a two-time Chief Minister of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, serving from 2004 to 2009.

YS 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. He 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, and did the same in 2009.

On 2 September 2009, a helicopter carrying YS went missing in the Nallamala forest area. The next morning media reported that the helicopter wreckage had been found on top of Rudrakonda Hill, 40 nautical miles (74 km) from Kurnool. The five people aboard were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

YS has been accused of amassing large amounts of money during his tenure as the Chief Minister. He is said to have used the populist schemes like Irrigation projects and housing schemes to his advantage and earn huge profits through them. In a leaked United States diplomatic cable, the American Consul General quotes that there was “widespread corruption that was beyond the pale even for India”.

YS was married to Vijaya Lakshmi (Y. S. Vijayamma). They had one son, politician Y. S. Jagan Mohan, and one daughter, Y. S. Sharmila. YS’s younger brother Y. S. Vivekananda is also a Congress (I) politician.

YSR’s parents were devout Christians, as was YS, who was buried according to Christian rites. YS visited Bethlehem and other historically important Christian places in Israel twice. He also visited the Hindu temple of Tirupati regularly.

Positions held
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 2 September 2009)
Chief Minister
During his tenure as Chief Minister, the government of Andhra Pradesh undertook the following projects:

On the first day of his tenure in 2004, he provided free electricity for farmers, a campaign project.
A health insurance program for rural people living below the poverty line (white card holders), known as Rajiv Arogya Shree, was instituted to pay the entire cost of any necessary surgery up to a maximum of Rs.200,000.
A free public ambulance service was originally started by Satyam and then adopted by Andhra Pradesh.
The Pavala Vaddi program provided loans at 3% interest to encourage small businesseses and entrepreneurship by rural women.
Indiramma illu was a program started to construct heavily subsidised housing for the rural poor.
A rice scheme provided a kilogram of rice for two rupees to reduce hunger. The minimum support price for rice was also raised.Full reimbursement of college tuition for the underprivileged and reservations for minorities were instituted.The main emphasis during YSR’s tenure was on social welfare with a majority of his projects targeted at reducing rural poverty. Apart from these schemes, his government was a role model in implementing the central government’s flagship program NREGA.
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.


Other projects

The Jala Yagnam project was started to irrigate 10,000,000 acres of land through the construction of major, medium and minor irrigation projects. It helped Andhra Pradesh make significant progress in sustainable agriculture by making wastelands cultivable.

2009 election
YSR’s major campaign slogan for the 2009 election was “Development and Credibility”. He sought a mandate based on past performance, making no new election promises but vowing to continue and extend ongoing schemes. The opposition parties formed a ‘Grand alliance’ (mahakootami) made up of 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 a unique cash transfer scheme (CTS). There was also a new party, Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), floated by a popular film star Chiranjeevi.

The Congress Party under the leadership of YS won the contest and came to power for a second time, winning 156 seats in the assembly (148 would be a simple majority). YSR’s party also won 33 seats in parliament out of a total of 42 seats. This feat was seen as a significant victory for YSR, since he was able to earn a second consecutive term against the odds of anti-incumbency. He became the Congress party’s first incumbent chief minister since 1969 to win based on his performance.

YSR 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 about 20,000 people.

Controversies
The surrender of more than 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of personal land by YS to the government to be compliant with the law in December 2006 was criticised by opposition parties. The opposition parties demanded his resignation for owning the land in violation of the law. Naidu also called for YS’s resignation after a 2007 Khammam police shooting resulted in eight deaths.

A federal probe of the CBI was also launched to investigate disproportionate assets acquired by YS in return for a favour his father made to the industrialists. In May 2012, C.B.I. arrested Mopidevi Venkataramana, the then-Infrastructure Minister in YS’s cabinet who was responsible for unduly assigning the land to a private organisation called, Vanpick. This incident calls the credibility of YS’s entire cabinet into question.

Death
Main article: 2009 Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister helicopter crash
YS’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 Reddy, said that inclement weather had forced the helicopter off course. Although the sparsely populated forest area is considered to be a 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 YSR, 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 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 a problem with the transmission oil pressure system that distracted the crew from the worsening weather for more than six minutes. It was also noted that the pilots of the helicopter never discussed the bad weather, diverting, or returning to base.

YS’s body was buried on 4 September at Idupulapai in Kadapa district with full state honours in accordance with Christian rites.

Aftermath
A Telugu television station, NTV, reported that as many as 122 people died of shock or committed suicide upon hearing the news of YS’s death, many of whom were young supporters or those who benefited from his social welfare schemes. This was not, however, independently confirmed.

Finance Minister Konijeti Rosaiah was sworn in as Chief Minister following YS’s death.

Six months after his death, YS’s son Jagan began a condolence tour (Odarpu Yatra) to meet the families of those who either allegedly committed suicide or died of shock after hearing of the death of his father. The Congress party’s central leadership directed Jagan to call off the Odarpu Yatra, but he refused. The tour was successful and established Jagan as a major political force in state politics. He resigned from the Congress party on 29 November 2010 and announced on 7 December 2010 from Pulivendula that he would be starting a new party within 45 days. On 16 February the YSR Congress Party came into existence with Jagan as its president.

Elections for the seats left vacant due to the resignations of Jagan and Y. S. Vijayamma (YS’s wife) were held on 8 May 2011. Jagan and Vijayamma contested the elections on behalf of the newly formed YSR Congress Party.

Jagan surpassed his father’s 420,000 vote margin, securing 690,000 votes, or more than 65%. He earned 545,043 more votes than his nearest rival, Health Minister D.L. Ravindra Reddy. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) nominee M.V. Mysoora Reddy came in third with 129,000 votes. Both rivals and 39 independents forfeited their deposits. In Pulivendula, Vijayamma secured a record 81,373 votes margin, surpassing her husband’s 68,681 vote margin in the 2009 elections. Her nearest Congress rival and brother-in-law Y.S. Vivekananda earned just a little more than 28,000 votes. TDP candidate M. Ravindranath Reddy, with 12,000 votes, came in 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 Jagan, who termed the election “a battle between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and self-respect of the people of Kadapa”.

Honour
On 8 July 2010, the Government of Andhra Pradesh renamed the Kadapa district as YSR district in honour of Y. S. Rajasekhara , who was a native of that district.

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