Dr YS Rajsekhara Reddy hopes to break the jinx
He was the closest chum of Chandrababu Naidu in the college. They started together in politics, contested the elections together and became ministers together in the T Anjaiah cabinet.
While Naidu went to become the Chief minister and that too the longest serving Chief minister of Andhra, the other has all along lost power by a whisker.
Meet Dr Y S Rajsekhara Reddy(YSR), the permanent "CM-in-waiting". He has not lost a single election,having been elected four terms each to Assembly and Parliament, during a political career spanning 26 years. Yet when Congress came to power in the state, he was in Parliament and when he opted for Assembly, the party was in the opposition.
Anyone in his position would have given up, not the "Kadapa tiger"(as his followers call him), who is making his third attempt at the highest post.
YSR is on a state-wide "Jaitra Yatra" to garner support for party candidates, in the process establishing his claim for the top slot. This is the second time he has embarked on a Yatra within a year. The Yatra having covered Telangana, is currently in coastal Andhra.
Taking a leaf from the winning roadshow of late NTR in 1982,YSR is literally living on the road. A trailer serves as his bathroom,he eats food under shades of roadside trees and sleeps in the Ratham.
Chandrababu Naidu calls all this a 'gimmick'. "Is it necessary to sleep under roadside trees or tent and wash oneself in a van. One can stay at a decent place and yet continue with the campaign," Naidu asks.
Yet this style has made YSR dear to the unwashed masses. He is drawing huge crowds everywhere, be it the naxalite hinterland in Telangana or the tribal dominated agency areas of Srikakulam and Visakhpatnam.
People often wait four to five hours to have a glimpse of the deeply tanned YSR. Even at Visakhpatnam, where a joint public meeting of Prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Chandrababu Naidu was a wash out, YSR`s roadshow stalled the traffic for over an hour.
YSR predicts a landslide victory for Congress. "There is a strong undercurrent of anti-incumbency in the state. Pollsters are missing the same the way the missed the public mood in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand,' he told HT.