Congress leader vows to quit politics if party loses
It's now or never for Andhra Pradesh Congress party leader Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, a doctor-turned-politician, who has vowed to quit politics if his party failed to return to power in the southern state.
Reddy, popularly known as YSR, is currently leading the party's campaign with his Jaitra Yatra, a mass contact programme.
He is a front runner for the chief minister's post in the event his party stages a comeback.
As a man who firmly believes that politicians should retire at the age of 60, YSR said this would be his last fight to bring back the party to power.
He is confident that the party would come back after a gap of nine years. The ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has criticised YSR's announcement. TDP spokesman C. Ramchandraiah said this was proof that YSR was in politics only for the sake of power and not to serve the people.
YSR claims that the enthusiastic response he received during his yatra was a pointer that people were disillusioned with the nine-year rule of Chandrababu Naidu and wanted a change.
The Congress leader alleges that "pro-rich" policies of Naidu led to a spate of suicides by farmers, weavers and other working class people.
He has promised free electricity to farmers and the poorest of the poor, filling up of 300,000 vacancies in the government and low- interest loans to farmers and women.
YSR, 55, is sure that he would prove lucky third time around. He has twice failed to lead the party to victory.
YSR was equally confident in 1999 elections but could only improve the party's tally of seats in the assembly from a dismal 25 to 91 seats. He had then attributed the loss to TDP's alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other factors, including the personality of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Even then the party managed to get 40 percent votes, just three percent less than the votes secured by the TDP-BJP combine.
With the Congress entering into an alliance with the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the leftists to avoid a split in anti-establishment votes, YSR feels the situation is now different and the TDP-BJP combine will be wiped out.