PM, Sonia pay tributes to YSR, funeral today

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in an air tragedy, will be given a state funeral on Friday.

Updated: Sep 04, 2009, 10:46 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy, who died in an air tragedy, will be given a state funeral on Friday. As a mark of respect for the deceased leader, the national flag will fly at half mast in Delhi and all state capitals.

YSR`s body will be kept at the Lal Bahadur Stadium till today afternoon for people to pay homage. It will be then taken to his native Pulivendula town in Kadapa district for state funeral.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, general secretary Rahul Gandhi and several union ministers arrived in Hyderabad early today to pay their last respects to YSR, popularly known as the ‘Lion of Kadapa’.

Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi laid wreaths on the body. They consoled YSR`s wife Vijayalakshmi, son YS Jaganmohan Reddy, daughter Sharmila and other family members. The leaders, who were accompanied by nearly a dozen central ministers, also wrote their condolence messages in a book.

Andhra Pradesh Governor Narayan Dutt Tiwari and central ministers including P Chidambaram, AK Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Praful Patel, Salman Khursheed, Prithvi Raj Chauhan and Veerappa Moily paid their last respects.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar paid homage Thursday night while central minister for health Gulam Nabi Azad paid his respects early Friday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had, yesterday, called YSR an `ideal chief minister who was a role model for other states`, the Prime Minister said he had lost `a valued colleague on whom I depended for support and ideas.`

A deeply moved Sonia Gandhi said it `is a huge loss for the party, it is a loss for all of us, his colleagues, for the state of Andhra Pradesh and the country`.

The charred bodies of four persons including Chief Minister YSR was found Thursday morning in a dense forest in Kurnool district where the accident took place in bad weather.

The bodies of YSR`s Special Secretary P Subrahmanyam, chief security officer ASC Wesley and pilots - Group Captain SK Bhatia and Captain MS Reddy - are being sent to their respective home towns.

Tributes poured in from all quarters, including from the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that also lowered its flags in mourning.

As an interim arrangement, Finance Minister K Rosaiah has taken over as caretaker Chief Minister.

The government has set up a four-member panel, headed by the chief of Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd, to probe the chopper crash. It will submit its report in two months. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has also started its independent probe into the reasons behind the crash.