Life snuffed out

Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s tragic and untimely death in a helicopter crash is a major loss for the state and the Congress party. YSR, as he was known, left the scene at the peak of his political career, after consolidating his personal leadership of the party and the state with a decisive electoral victory early this year. No Congress chief minister had returned to power in the state in the last three decades, as he did in May this year. He was among the few politicians who derived their power and authority from their standing with the people, and not from  equations with the party’s central leadership.

YSR’s growth as a politician from the grassroots to the top echelons in the state in three decades is a testimony to that. It was his padyatra in 2004 through the state’s villages, which was a unique campaign of mass contact, that helped the Congress to unseat Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam from power that year. The large number of social welfare and development schemes that his government formulated and implemented after coming to power were based on the direct knowledge that he gained of the people’s problems during this padyatra. They stood the party in good stead when he went to the people again this year fighting an alliance of the TDP, Left parties and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS). YSR characteristically met his end when he was on his way to launch another pro-poor programme in remote villages.

Questions have been raised about the circumstances of the mishap, including the security of the chief minister and the fitness of the helicopter which took him on the fatal trip. There is contradictory information about the airworthiness of the helicopter and doubts have been raised on whether it was fully equipped to make a flight in bad weather. Only a comprehensive enquiry, which the state government has ordered, will throw light on them. Many state governments and others own helicopters and there have been reports that they suffer from poor safety and maintenance procedures. Accidents, involving even casualties, have been reported. The latest mishap is a reminder of the need to improve security and safety standards so that lives are not put at risk as a result of neglect or inadequate safety measures. YSR will be remembered as a leader who matured through political fights and even controversies and left a deep and lasting impact on the state.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry