Year after YSR, political vacuum continues in AP

HYDERABAD: It has been a year of unprecedented crises in Andhra Pradesh that remembers one of its tallest leaders Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on his first death anniversary Sep 2.

During the last one year, political instability, violent protests over a separate Telangana state, natural calamities and a financial crunch have battered the state like never before.

The political vacuum, which the state plunged into after YSR’s tragic death, still remains with the ruling Congress finding no real alternative to the mass leader, say political observers.

YSR, his secretary, chief security officer and the two pilots were killed when the helicopter carrying them from Hyderabad to Chittoor district crashed in bad weather over Nallamalla forests in Kurnool district.

The death of YSR plunged the state into gloom and a political crisis. He was the first chief minister of the state to die in office and it came barely four months after he led Congress party to second successive win in the elections.

"The state is still unable to come to terms with the passing away of a tall leader. A good section of masses still regard him as a leader who provided them whatever is needed," said Rama Brahmam, head of the department of political sciences at the University of Hyderabad.

"When a strong leader suddenly disappears from a political theatre, people perceive it as a major vacuum politically. They will be worried as to what will happen now. Such responses were only natural," he said, referring to the shock deaths and suicides by people in the immediate aftermath.

The vacuum remains as K. Rosaiah, who took over as the chief minister Sep 3, is still unacceptable to YSR’s son and MP Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, who kept defying the central leadership by taking out ‘yatras’ to console families of those who died for his late father.

The threat for Rosaiah still exists as Jagan continues his efforts to mobilise support and wean away a section of party legislators to pose a real challenge.

For the first time since YSR brought the Congress party to power in 2004, it appears to be in total disarray with serious accusations between loyalists of Jagan and his opponents being order of the day.

YSR’s adversaries, who never dared to openly criticise him when he was alive, are now targeting the late leader and his family members accusing them of corruption.

If Rosaiah has survived as chief minister it is because of his cabinet colleagues who were staunch loyalists of YSR but dumped Jagan when the high command preferred the 78-year-old leader to the 39-year-old MP.

"The Congress high command is in a political fix. The alternative leader (Jagan) is too young and the stakes are too high for it," said Brahmam.

It is not just the political crisis but a series of governance problems faced by Rosaiah.

With YSR, a strong votary of united Andhra Pradesh no longer around, Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) took it as the right opportunity to revive Telangana movement.

The central government’s Dec 9 announcement to initiate the process for formation of a separate Telangana state following an 11-day hunger strike by TRS chief K. Chandrasekhara Rao triggered a crisis with mass resignations, street protests and violent demonstrations in Andhra and Rayalaseema regions.

The state economy, already reeling under the impact of global slowdown, was hit hard by Rs.100 crore loss every day due to the Telangana agitation. The issue is likely to return to Rosaiah in December when the Srikrishna committee is scheduled to submit its report to the central government.

The financial crunch began to show its impact on numerous welfare schemes launched and implemented by YSR since 2004. They include fee reimbursement and scholarships for students, free electricity to farmers, Rs.2-a-kg rice and health insurance for poor.

"Despite repeated assertions that none of YSR’s schemes will be scrapped, people want frequent reiterations," said a political observer.

While Rosaiah completed one year in office despite all the problems, the veteran leader knows his path is still full of thorns.(IANS)

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