Leader of the Opposition in Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly and YSR Congress party president, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, is seen as a man of unwavering commitment and a leader who is always true to his word. This is for a very good reason. All through his political career he has demonstrated unflinching dedication to the cause he has espoused and has always remained committed to his word. A cursory glance at his political career reflects his will, single-mindedness of purpose and his firmness of resolve.
After the tragic, untimely demise of his father the late Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy in an air crash on September 02, 2009, hundreds of people died of shock or committed suicide unable to bear the sudden loss. At this point, YS Jagan decided to stand by all of them in their hour of need. He announced his intention to undertake his Odarpu Yatra to console the families of those who died of shock or gave up their lives hearing of the death of their beloved leader, whom they adored above everything and everyone else. When YS Jagan announced his decision to embark upon Odarpu Yatra, as he chose to call it because the primary purpose was to console (Odarpu) the families of these unfortunate people who died of shock or committed suicide at that tragic hour, the Congress Party high command refused to grant him permission. YS Jagan went to Delhi to apprise Sonia Gandhi and others of his intentions, but the permission was not forthcoming. Finally, remaining true to his word he set out on his Odarpu Yatra.
The rest, as they say, is history. YS Jagan later came out of the Congress and founded his own political party, the YSR Congress party. A vindictive Congress in league with the crafty TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu, foisted a slew of false cases against YS Jagan and also got him incarcerated in prison for 16 months. However, all these trials and tribulations only strengthened YS Jagan and steeled his resolve to serve the masses with devotion.
After having lost the 2014 elections in Andhra Pradesh by a wafer-thin margin to the TDP, BJP, Jana Sena combine riding the Modi wave, the YSRCP became the principal Opposition party in the residuary state. As a responsible leader of the opposition, the YSRCP chief sought to highlight the corrupt practices of the TDP government and expose them in various areas of governance. He did so in the assembly in his characteristic, hard-hitting style, be it on the issue of Special Category Status to AP, scams surrounding Amaravati and Polavaram, among several other things.
Chandrababu Naidu, in contrast, used all possible means to stifle the opposition. He lured 23 YSRCP MLAs over to the TDP fold in brazen violation of the anti-defection law. The TDP chief shamelessly made four YSRCP MLAs his cabinet colleagues. The AP Assembly Speaker looked the other way and refused to disqualify the turncoat legislators. This unconstitutional act will go down in the history of democracy as a dark chapter.
It was under such trying circumstances that YS Jagan decided to undertake his mass contact initiative, Praja Sankalpa Yatra and launched it from Idupulapaya on November 6th, 2017, after paying homage to his father at Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s memorial. The YSRCP chief had resolved to walk through the length and breadth of the state of Andhra Pradesh to reach Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district in the north eastern tip of the state. The underlying reasons were simple–YS Jagan wanted to gain a first-hand insight into the day-to-day suffering under the TDP and to highlight the ubiquitous corruption in the ruling party, beginning with the highest levels down to Janmabhoomi committee members in villages.
In 124 public meetings held in 134 constituencies of 231 mandals across the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress party president stressed upon the need to provide corruption-free, people-centric welfare governance. He brought local issues to the fore in village after village of the state. People everywhere showered unprecedented love and affection on him as seen from some of the high points of the Padayatra such as the sea of humanity following him on the rail-cum-bridge on Godavari, the Kanaka Durga bridge to Vijayawada and the mammoth public meeting in Visakhapatnam.
Over the past 14 months, YS Jagan continued his Padayatra in the most difficult conditions. The Chandrababu Naidu-led government spared no effort to create hurdles in his path, but nothing deterred the resolve of the YSRCP chief. Conspiracy politics in the state revealed its ugly face when an attempt was made on the life of the Leader of the Opposition in the secure zone of the VIP lounge of the Visakhapatnam airport on October 25, 2018.
Worse was to follow. It became clear that the attack was a part of an elaborate conspiracy. The state DGP, with their hour of the incident, tried to play down the incident. He said that a fan of the YSRCP chief attacked the leader for publicity. Why this absurd and baffling explanation was propagated by the TDP and its favourite media outlets, the people of the state could see through this transparent game being played by the ruling party at a dangerous level. Chandrababu Naidu and his cabinet colleagues, his MPs and party leaders joined this shameless chorus, taking politics to an unprecedented low.
If one goes through the events of the past 14 months in which YS Jagan undertook his Padayatra, one can see that all along the YSRCP chief has remained committed to his word. He has been consistent in his approach to the political problems of the state. YS Jagan has always maintained that special category status to Andhra Pradesh was the need of the hour and that it was like a miracle cure or Sanjeevini. This has been his stand since 2014 when the state was abruptly divided by the Congress party. All along, his stand on SCS to Andhra Pradesh has remained consistent, unlike Chandrababu Naidu whose U turns over and over on the issue are now the stuff of jokes.
It was in line with this consistent stand on Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh that YS Jagan asked YSRCP MPs to quit the Lok Sabha as the Centre refused to yield to the demand. Accordingly, the five MPs of the party did so on April 6, 2018. Similarly, whenever a leader or legislator decided to join the YSRCP, YS Jagan insisted that he resign his seat first.
The YSRCP chief has promised the people of the state of Andhra Pradesh welfare governance based on Navarathnalu, covering all aspects of people’s lives. It is not difficult to see which way the wind is blowing in Andhra Pradesh–it is a matter of months before Rajanna Rajyam is ushered into the state.