“My father has not left me orphaned. He has left me a huge family in you, the people of Andhra Pradesh”.
These were the loaded words with which rebel Congress MP Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched his Odarpu Yatra (Consolation Tour) from the coastal Srikakulam district, bordering Orissa on Thursday.
The first-term MP will tour the entire district for the next three days to console and dole out cash to family members of all those who died of shock or committed suicide after the death of Late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy in a helicopter crash on September 2 last year.
Though it is supposed to be a tour to console grieving people, there no shortage of pomp and splendor. Massive arrangements were in place everywhere he travelled. He started the day by putting a giant garland on the statue of his father at Vijaya Vatika, a garden created to mark the conclusion of the late leader’s 1,140-km padayatra in 2003. He later cut a 61-kg cake, the weight corresponding to YSR’s 61st birth anniversary.
Reddy’s convoy consisting of hundreds of cars were greeted by hundreds of youths lining the streets, sitting on treetops and perching on rooftops for a glimpse of the MP.
If the turnout at the places he visited was any indicator, Reddy has proved to his detractors and the party high command that he is a crowd puller.
The party high command, which instructed him not to cross the ‘laxman rekha’ came up trumps too. For, not a single MLA, MP or MLC joined the yatra. Of course, it is an open secret that many of the ministers and legislators, who owe their positions to the late YSR, clandestinely helped the yatra by mobilising people and making arrangements.