Tearful adieu to Andhra CM YSR Reddy

Last Updated: Saturday, September 5, 2009 - 10:07

Hyderabad: The campaign for making Y S
Jaganmohan Reddy the next CM, gathered pace today even as his father YSR Reddy was laid to rest in a state funeral at his hometown, amidst lakhs paying him respects.

The last rites were performed in this rural town in
Pulivendla constituency after a galaxy of national leaders
including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President
Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani joined a
sea of humanity that had come all parts of the state to bid
adieu to him in Hyderabad.

60-year-old Reddy`s son Jaganmohan (36), the cynosure of
all eyes against the backdrop of a succession race for the
Chief Minister`s post, was composed with hands folded
acknowledging the mourners, many of whom raised slogans like
"YSR amar rahe" (long live his memory).

But his wife Vijayalakshmi and daughter Sharmila were
inconsolable as they sprinkled earth after the flower-bedecked
coffin was lowered into the grave in his 300-acre estate in
Kadapa district.

The last journey of the leader, who received a massive
mandate for the second consecutive term on the back of various
welfare programmes, began from his Begumpet residence in
Hyderabad as the coffin, wrapped in tri-colour, was placed
on a gun carriage which was pulled by an army truck.

Reddy`s mortal remains were taken taken in a funeral
procession first to Gandhi Bhavan-the state headquarters of
Congress-in Nampally and then to Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium
where mourners in large numbers came to pay their last
respects.

The cortege moved at a snail`s pace with surging crowds, many
among them sobbing uncontrollably,trying to get near it.

Jagan Mohan, Rajya Sabha MP K V P Ramchandra Rao, a
close aide of YSR, Congress MP and former cricketer Mohammad
Azharuddin were among those who stood near the casket carrying
Reddy`s mortal remains.

All state and central government offices, schools,
shops and commercial establishments in Andhra Pradesh remained
closed in view of the state mourning.

In the afternoon, the body was flown to Idupulapaya in
Kadapa, his native district, by an air force helicopter.
The national flag is being flown at half mast during
the seven-day state mourning.

Race for successor

Meanwhile interim Chief Minister
K Rosaiah said he had no "personal agenda" or "aspirations"
and would go by whatever the party high command decides,
Congress incharge for the state M Veerappa Moily said any
political party would have to respond to the "will" of the
people.

Mallu Batti Vikramarka, ruling party`s chief whip in
the Assembly, claimed that 148 of the 154 Congress MLAs were
behind Jaganmohan and over 100 of them would be meeting here
tomorrow.

The funeral of the late leader was on here but backers
of 36-year-old Jaganmohan, a political novice, met Gandhi and
reportedly handed over a letter backing his candidature.

Based on an informal decision taken at a meeting of
the ministers of the YSR cabinet with the interim Chief
Minister yesterday, the letter was said to have urged her to
make Jaganmohan the next Chief Minister as he was the
inheritor of his father`s political legacy.

The letter is believed to have listed the names of all
the ministers who were part of the YSR Cabinet, including
Rosaiah. The sources claimed it also has the signatures of 120
of the 155 Congress MLAs.

"The Cabinet has thoroughly discussed the political
scenario prevailing in the state.

"Keeping in view the developmental commitments and
ongoing irrigation projects, besides the sentiments of the
general public, we have unanimously resolved to propose the
candidature of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy to succeed Y S Rajasekhara
Reddy as the chief minister of state," the letter said.

"Just like YSR, Jagan is having a good following
among masses from grassroots level and is acceptable to all
sections, particularly the downtrodden and weaker sections for
the chief minister`s post," it added.

The letter sought to invoke "loyalty" clause to
press for Jagan`s candidature recalling YSR family`s loyalty
to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandh.

"To continue their dreams and also to fulfill your
commitments to the people of Andhra Pradesh, Jaganmohan Reddy
is the only suitable candidate in the present circumstances,"
Rosaiah and others said in the letter.

However, not all in the party may blindly accept
the demand for Jaganmohan`s succession, party sources.

The High Command, they said, would wait for the
mourning period to be over before deciding on YSR`s successor.
The chances of interim arrangement continuing cannot also be
completely ruled out, they claimed.

There is a section in the party which feels that
Jaganmohan, a first-time MP, has to "mature" as a politician.
There are some names including Union Minister S
Jaipal Reddy and APCC President D Srinivas doing the rounds in
the leadership race, none in the party is expected to openly
speak about this when the state is in mourning.

Asked about the campaign, Moily indicated that the
next Chief Ministerial choice could emerge out of a consensus.




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