-Rajesh Tyagi and R. Prasanth
12 September 2009
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy died on 2.9.2009, after his helicopter had crashed, against Rudrakonda hills, 40 nautical miles from Kurnool, while passing over the dense forest of Nallamalla. The helicopter is expected to have crashed at about 9.30 a.m. when it lost contact with Air Traffic Controllers. The helicopter's crash could be confirmed on the morning of 3 September, when the remains of the helicopter with charred bodies including that of YSR, his Special Secretary P. Subramaniam, Chief Security Officer A.S.C. Wesley, Group Captain S. K. Bhatia and Captain M. S. Reddy were found, and the death of all the five aboard was declared officially.
The demise of YSR came as a shock to the Congress Party, as the party has not only lost the chief contributor to its national treasury, but the demise has immediately led to a factional war inside the ruling clique in Andhra Pradesh, over the issue of succession of YSR in Party and the Government. While corporate media was engaged in creating a hype for the deceased Chief Minister, spreading rumours that people have started to commit suicide or die of heart attack at the news of YSR’s death, the family of YSR was busy in fighting their way for his son Jagan Mohan Reddy, to the chair of the Chief Minister of the State.
YSR had left his practices in medicine, to join the more fruitful profession in bourgeois politics, in 1978. However, the private hospital built by his father for him at Pulivendula, is still being run as a business venture. The family of YSR has been doing business in education, traditionally. They have been running a degree College and a Polytechnic in Pulivendula itself. Another junior College at Simhadripuram, in the near vicinity to Pulivendula is also being run by his family. Father of YSR who was a contractor in irrigation canal projects, had made a fortune in the business of education.
In 1978 YSR started his political career by contesting from Pulivendula on Reddy-Congress Party ticket and won the elections. Later he joined in Indira Congress. From 1980 to 1983 he was a Minister holding important portfolios related to Rural Development, Medical Health and Education under T. Anjaiah Cabinet. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kadappa constituency four times and was elected to the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly six times from Pulivendula constituency. Reddy was the leader of the opposition in the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly for five years.
Highest levels of corruption were touched in the state during the tenure of YSR in Andhra Pradesh. Widely reported scams in hydro- projects in the state, are only one example of it. Needless to mention that every culprit landing in the corruption net, garnered a personal favour and support from YSR himself. YSR’s son Jagan Mohan Reddy has accumulated huge properties, mostly benami, like cement factories, Granite Mines etc. during the tenure as CM of YSR.
YSR succeeded in mustering mass support in Andhra Pradesh during the General Elections of 2004, when Congress (I) could win 185 seats, not for his deeds, but by default, as the government of Chandrababu Naidu, then collaborator of right wing NDA at the centre, was voted out by the people for its 9 years misrule, full of corruption, crime and repression upon the people. However, after coming to power, YSR continued the same regime turning its back upon the masses, betraying those who voted it to power, like any other bourgeois politician.
There is an unending list of the misdeeds and crimes this ‘mass leader’ committed against the masses. To cite a few : He ordered police firing on a peaceful protest of agricultural workers in Mudigonda in 2007, which took its toll upon the life of 8 workers, leaving dozens injured. He was instrumental in strangulating the anti-government press. Arrest of Andhra Jyoti Editor K. Srinivas on fabricated grounds is one of the examples.
Not to mention the repression upon innumerable land struggles under the regime of YSR, it is sufficient to mention a few. In the name of building ‘coastal corridor’ thousand of peasants were dispossessed from their lands in the state, without adequate rehabilitation. Forced dislocation of poor dwellers was ordered in 2009 in Bhimrav Bhada for extension of the office of Congress (I) i.e. Gandhi Bhawan.
The government of YSR remained infamous for the repression it unleashed upon the struggles of the working people in Andhra Pradesh, where socio-economic disparities are too large. It was he who ordered a crackdown upon the agitating Anganwadi workers in the state and gave free hand to police to unleash the terror. The Government teachers marching peacefully to the State Assembly in 2008, demanding a hike in their salaries, were brutally lathi-charged, by the police upon YSR’s orders. The government under him had ordered physical crushing of those dislocated by the Polavaram Project.
YSR was personally responsible for selling public lands of worth in billions to the private players, including that of the Companies of his own son. In derogation of all procedures, he leased out Obulapuram mines to his friend and Minister of right wing BJP in Karnataka G. Janardhan Reddy. The much advertised health scheme- Rajiv Arogyasree, turned into a scam under him, with all funds draining out to the corporate hospitals. Alongwith his sons, YSR had a direct role in the huge Satyam Scam, which rocked the Indian Economy and whose tremors could be felt even off-shores.
YSR had acquired a special repute with the Congress High Command for becoming the chief fund raiser for its central organisation, out of the money raised from loot of the working people, through all corrupt means, in the state he ruled.
After exposed, YSR accepted appropriating Government and forest lands to his name, that too in violation of ceiling laws, AP Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 & Rules, 1974, AP Assigned Lands (Prohibition of Transfers) Act, 1977 and AP Forest Act, 1967, and had to return 614 acres of such land at Idupulapaya estate in Vempalli Mandal to the government.
The New Indian Express dated 4 September 2009 said, “Charges of massive corruption in irrigation projects and other big ventures dogged him throughout his first innings, so much so that he was described as the chief fund raiser for the Congress at the national level.”
Media continued to report huge black-marketing of rice and fertilisers, during the tenure of YSR. Above all the corrupt practices by the Congress leaders and workers, gobbling the funds allocated for the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) Scheme, was so rampant under YSR’s regime that after initial exposures, these scams lost their value as news, becoming rather a regular norm.
During his tenure as Minister of Excise in the State in 1982 and thereafter as Chief Minister, his focus remained only to open more and more liquor vends in the state, resulting in steep rise in consumption of liquor and resultant deaths of urban and rural poor, apart from the loot of their money at the hands of liquor barons. YSR and colleagues minced huge money in the process.
To mention that no noticeable development works were undertaken by the government under YSR, especially in infrastructure- schools, colleges or hospitals. Rather, many of the existing schools and colleges were closed down by his Government on one or the other pretext. Bureaucracy in the state, instead of being reformed in any way, dipped further into corruption and inefficiency.
Indisputably, YSR, like other successful bourgeois politicians, was master in the art of political manoeuvring. He succeeded in isolating his rivals in the party and did not hesitate in eliminating the unmanageable. Parties of bourgeois left, like the Stalinist CPI-CPM who collaborated with YSR in elections, were sidelined by him. Maoists, who found a progressive bourgeois in him, to oppose the right-wing NDA, and actively supported his election campaigns, soon faced the wrath under his government. However, the collaboration of Stalinists and Maoists, with him, gave a left face and legitimacy to the government under YSR, among the working people and peasantry, especially among the youth. Over the time, YSR succeeded in destroying the limited mass base of both Stalinists and Maoists, rendering them politically marginalised in the state.
However, kicked by YSR and uprooted from their limited base in the state, the Stalinists turned back to the bandwagon driven by Chandrababu Naidu in 2009 general elections, who in their view, having left the NDA, was now a progressive wing and worthy of being leader of the democratic bloc in the state, which they imagined as ‘third front’. The Maoists, tried to return to regroup the forces to return to old anarchic work, but failed. This zig-zag by the Stalinists and Maoists, making them a virtual laughing stock and leaving the working people in a lurch, gave a more advantageous position to YSR, even as compared to 2004, and once again secured clear electoral victory for it with 158 seats in the State Assembly.
Political career of YSR is typical of any other bourgeois politician, with average personal calibre and volitions, who entered political scene upon the strength of money he possessed, and continued to ride the ladder of power, carefully taking one step after the other. He faithfully served the interests of the rich for his entire life, with rhetoric for the poor and ended up without leaving any mark in the history.
Under sway of the hype created by the corporate media, run with the aid of millions, masses are misled to believe in the ‘greatness’ of all petty and worthless representatives of the bourgeois, and YSR is no exception to it. But the history shows them their real place, within no time i.e. in the dustbin of history. Wasn’t this hype created when M.G. Ramachandran died, N.T. Rama Rao (founder of TDP, betrayed by his own son-in-law Chandra Babu Naidu) died. Such was the hype created when Churchill died, Stalin died and even when Hitler died. But today, no one bothers about them.
The passing hype, corporate media created for YSR, did not last even for days, as nothing creative or mentionable was added by this false and petty ‘leader’, to the history of mankind, except obediently serving the decaying rule of bourgeois and collecting feathers for his own nest in the process. Let the bourgeois and landlords mourn his death!
However, in all media hype, people should not forget to ask, what YSR was doing in the helicopter, which had crashed. No official tour is found recorded as such. Was it a usual morning entertainment of the ‘leader’ alongwith his aides, a regular stealth upon public exchequer, that too in a state which remains in news for suicide by its peasants for unbearable poverty?