Power play picks up in Andhra as YSR Reddy laid to rest
There is a rising crescendo of powerful voices in the state demanding former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy's son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy be made his successor. Praveen Donthi and Prasad Nichenametla report.Pics: YSR's last journeyHe promised, he delivered|In pics: End of a mass leader | Full coverage | Podcast: Andhra after YSRUpdated: Sep 05, 2009, 11:35 IST
Mass hysteria, uncontrollable crowds, lakhs of weeping mourners, reports of “spontaneous suicides” and a high-stakes political drama marked the funeral of former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Friday.
There were 10 km-long traffic jams on the state highways leading to Pulivendla, Reddy’s native village, where he was buried next to his parents, in accordance with Christian rites, on his 300-acre family estate.
But even before Reddy, who died in a helicopter crash on Wednesday, could be laid to rest, there was a rising crescendo of powerful voices demanding his son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, 36, a first-time MP from Cudda-pah and a controversial industrialist, be made his successor.
Widespread, but unconfirmed, reports of scores of people committing suicide and suffering heart attacks out of grief over Reddy’s death, and the hysteria around it, effectively shut the door on any possibility of a rival claim.
On Friday morning, a full meeting of the 36-member state Cabinet passed a resolution to this effect and handed over a memorandum to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who had come to Hyderabad with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, to pay her last respects to the departed chief minister.
“It is well known that Dr Rajasekhara Reddy’s family has always been loyal to the late Indira Gandhi and the late Rajiv Gandhi and to you. They are committed to fulfill the dreams of the departed leaders.
“To continue their dreams and also to fulfill your commitments to the people of Andhra Pradesh, Jagan Mohan Reddy is the only suitable candidate in the present circumstances.
“We, therefore, urge upon you to consider the candidature of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy as the leader of Congress Legislature Party and chief minister of the state to fulfill the dreams of Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy,” the memorandum says.
The list of the signatories is topped by K. Rosaiah, 77, acting chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, who took charge only the previous day..
Asked about it, he, however, said: “I’m just a soldier; I will follow the decision of the party high command.”
He was suitably vague about the possibility of Jagan Mohan Reddy becoming the chief minister.
“He is an enthusiastic young man. He has a bright future ahead of him,” he said.
Earlier in the day, there was a near stampede as lakhs of people gathered at the Lal Bahadur Shastri Ground in Hyderabad, where Reddy’s body lay in state, to catch a last glimpse of their departed leader.
The police had to use force to control the crowd and Jagan Mohan Reddy had to issue an appeal for the crowd to remain calm.
But here, too, the atmosphere was that of a political meeting. Long after the body had left the venue, thousands of party workers and supporters were seen raising slogans hailing Jagan Mohan Reddy as the next chief minister.
The Congress will take a final decision on the matter only after the seven-day mourning period ends on September 9. Till then, however, the drama will continue.
With inputs from Saroj Nagi in New Delhi