Dr. Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy’s Prajaprasthanam Padayatra
Every great achievement was once considered impossible. It was not different in the case ofDr.YSRajasekhara Reddy’s prajaprasthanam padayatra. When Dr.YSR, the then Leader of the Opposition in the Andhrapradesh Assembly -presently the Chief Minister of the State - planned to take up a padayatra in the hot summer of 2003, the friends and the foes alike tried their best to dispirit him. But it is very hard to argue with someone when he is right. It is said that the greatest challenge of life is to decide what’s important and to disregard everything else. And, that’s how none could stop Dr.YSR from creating history.
Even the simplest of tasks will be rated great when it is done in the right spirit. And, what about agreat task done in the proper spirit? Just refer to the annals of the contemporary Andhra politics, where you find this “Empathy tour” which provided that most needed “pint of confidence” to the drought hit farming community of the State as a glorious chapter. Stretching to an extent of about 1500 K.M, from Chevella in the South Telangana to the Itchapuram in the North Andhra, this prajaprasthanam padayatra went on for 64 days. A detailed version of Dr.YSR’s personal diary appearing as a serial in ANDHRAJYOTHI daily alone speaks about the reception the padayatra enjoyed among the masses.
Every means of communication - the electronic and the print media alike - prominently placed “stories” covering almost every inch covered in the padayatra. Above all, every section of the society found it relevant and flooded Dr.YSR’s padayatra with requests, requisitions, petitions and complaints. Everyone, inclusive of Dr.YSR, was worrying whether the “public” was aware of the fact that he was then just a leader of the Opposition and not the ruler proper. Yet, the wholething went on all along. Eventually, these requests, requisitions, petitions and complaints formed as a firm data base for Dr.YSR, the chief Minister to efficiently act upon.
Let’s back-focus on the prajaprasthanam padayatra to find out what was THE reason behind this padayatra to be marked as a glorious chapter in the annals of Andhra. To state the fact, Dr.YSR was not the only politician or the first one who took up a padayatra to highlight a particular problem that was plaguing a large number of people in a particular place at a particular juncture. Padayatras were of course a part of Gandhian tradition to reflect and resound the anger of the people to reach the deaf ears of the unkind rulers. Many great soldiers of the Freedom Struggle did resort to this practice and could successfully attract the attention of the State. A parralel can be drawn between prajaprasthanam padayatra and the Raithu rakshana yatra that went along the Coastal line of our State, - from Itchapuram to Tada - under the leadership of a great Gandhian of histimes, Late Shree Kommareddy Satyanarayana in the third decade of the last century .
But, prajaprasthanam padayatra was entirely unique on many counts. Prajaprasthanam never had any specific agenda - an open or hidden - for that matter. As Dr.YSR, the then Opposition Leader on the floor of the Legislative Assembly was not allowed to raise his voice in favour of the suffering farmers of the State, who were resorting to the cynical suicides enmasse, he had noother go but to reach the masses face-to-face. YSR knows too well that, silent company is often more healing than empty words of advice. He didn’t go there seeking a vote or begging for party funds. Instead, Dr.YSR went to every nook and corner of the State relaying the message of Empathy for the struggling sections of our State. This makes it uncomparable to any of the padayatras whatsoever. The farmers and the artisans of our State were given a raw deal by the then Government.
A drought for Four consecutive years has eaten away the self confidence of the people. And the endurance levels in the rural areas have gone to the rock bottom. What they needed most at that juncture was a kind word, a note of solace and an utterance of moral succor . Those were the very things Dr.YSR could provide to the farmers, artisans and other sections of the rural poorfolk of our State. And, for this timely gesture the History remembers him forever!
There is yet another factor - a personal one - that made the prajaprasthanam padayatra, historic. During the padayatra Dr.YSR fell seriously ill at Madhurapudi, a village close to Rajahmundry. He was terribly bitten by the hot waves of Godavari District - sending the Mercury levels upto 44 Degrees C - and was forced to be bed ridden for about a week. Apart from the large numbers of masses that were eye witness to his suffering, every notable head in the state was worried and concerned about the state of his health. A number of leaders from all the streams of politics flew down to Madhurapudi where Dr.YSR was being treated by a team of Doctors. But none - not even the red hot summer Sun-could scare the strong willed YSR in pursuing his further course. He walked down the North Coast to reach Itchapuram where he concluded the epoch making prajaprasthanam padayatra. A person’s degree of self confidencegreatly determines his success, observed a wizard. After all, one can not grow into a Hero without taking a risk, people say.
YSR FELT SERIOUS IN MADHURAPUDI
RAJAHMUNDRY MAY 18. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, was on Sunday forced to suspend his padayatra for a day near Rajahmundry due to ill-health.
Dr. Reddy, who has covered 936 km of his 1,450-km padayatra, fell ill this afternoon and he was kept on intravenous fluids. Doctors attending on him advised him to suspend his yatra for at least for a day.
Dr. Reddy, who is suffering from amoebiosis, continued his journey this morning from Rajahmundry ignoring pleas of family members and doctors, but after covering about 11 km became very weak at Madhurapudi and had to be given medicare in the afternooN.
The health of disorder was the result of "heatstroke'' and gastroenteric problem,'' doctors attending on Dr. Reddy said.
Dr. Reddy is said to have vomited early in the morning. However, he had completed the morning part of padayatra and reached the scheduled halting place near Madhurapudi airstrip.
But because of severe stomachache, he had to cancel the scheduled press meet near the airstrip.
He was to resume his padayatra by 4.30 p.m., but the PCC spokesman, Vundavilli Arun Kumar, and the MLA, Jakkampudi Ramamohana Rao, announced rescheduling.
In fact, doctors advised four or five days rest to which Dr. Reddy, himself a doctor, had not agreed.
A minimum 24 hours rest was advised to avoid "more serious health disorders.''
The padayatra would be resumed tomorrow evening from the airstrip where Dr. Reddy is taking rest in a tent in a mango grove.
Dr. Reddy received complaints of severe drinking water problem and lack of drought relief measures in the quarry area, Konthamuru, Kolamuru and Gadala during his padayatra today.
Women came with empty pots. "The TDP regime would ensure uninterrupted supply of arrack — quarry area is known for illicit manufacture and sale of arrack — but not drinking water to the public,'' Dr. Reddy observed.
Debate on YSR PADAYATRA
HYDERABAD: Leaders of the Telugu Desam and Congress Party on Thursday continued their debate over Y S Rajasekhara Reddy's ongoing padayatra.
While information minister S Chandramohan Reddy said the promises being made by YSR reminded him of a Budabukkalodu (a village jester who wears outlandish clothes and asks for alms during Sankranti festival), Congress spokesman K Rosaiah said the walkathon was giving Chandrababu Naidu sleepless nights.
Addressing a press conference at the NTR Trust Buildings on Thursday, the information minister demanded that the Congress leaders implement the promises they were making in Andhra Pradesh in other states ruled by the party. Referring to the promises of free power and waiver of loans made by Rajasekhara Reddy, Chandramohan Reddy pointed out the Congress government in Karnataka had in fact increased the power tariff and also collected five per cent cess on supply.
He said YSR was going to the people as the elections were near and to ward off internal troubles, while Chandrababu Naidu was always with the people in times of distress.
At a separate press conference in Gandhi Bhavan, Rosaiah said the government was rattled with YSR's programme. He alleged that the chief minister was ordering the district collectors to take up drought relief works before Rajasekhara Reddy could visit a particular area during his padayatra.
"The intelligence wing has been informing the CM about YSR's tour programme in advance and the instructions thereof is being passed on to the districts," the Congress spokesman said.
This padayatra takes YSR into power in andhrapradesh.