Gloom descends over Andhra Bhavan after YSR’s death


New Delhi : The news of Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s death in a helicopter crash cast a pall of gloom over the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan in the national capital Thursday.

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Union Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju, who was among the first to come and pay his condolences, said the nation has lost “a powerful leader”.

“The sudden passing away of our chief minister under tragic circumstances is a big shock to the people of Andhra Pradesh and the nation. Reddy was the leader of the masses and whose heart beat for the common man, the under-privileged and the farming community. In his death country has lost a great and powerful leader. May god bless his departed soul and give strength to his family,” Raju wrote in his condolence message.

YSR, as the chief minister was popularly known, was on his way to Chittoor, about 580 km from the state capital Hyderabad, when his helicopter lost contact with the air traffic control around 9.30 a.m. Wednesday.

The crashed helicopter with the bodies of YSR and four others was sighted Thursday morning by Indian Air Force choppers on a forested hilltop in Kurnool district, about 200 km from the state capital.

“He was a very powerful and important leader. He used to work for the common man. He started a lots of irrigation projects. He implemented all the central and the state government schemes with full dedication… big loss to the country. We will work in his name and fulfil his dreams,” Raju said in his message.

A prayer meeting was organised at the Andhra Bhavan and a condolence meeting is scheduled Thursday evening. Left leaders D. Raja and Sitaram Yechury also came to pay their tributes. The national flag was flying at half mast atop the building.

“It’s a very tragic loss. When he won the recent assembly election emphatically, we all believed that he is poised to play a bigger role in the national politics. But this did not happen,” Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Sitaram Yechury said.

Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said: “He was quite friendly and generous person. He was a very affectionate leader. It’s a very tragic loss.”

Union Minister for Tourism Selja also visited the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan to offer her respects to the departed leader.

The information officer of the Andhra Pradesh Bhavan Kiran Kumar told IANS: “Seven days of state mourning has been declared.”

The happening Andhra cafe, which is visited by nearly 5,000 people daily, had fewer number of footfalls. The cafe decided to cancel its dinner services to mourn the death of the leader.

“People are sad. There is a definite decrease in the number of people coming here. Dinner will not be served today (Thursday),” Supervisor Satyanarayan told IANS.

Krishna Reddy, one of the visitors who came to pay his homage, said: “He (YSR) was one of the greatest leaders and a visionary. He worked for the common man. The people will miss him.”

Joshua Jena, an NGO worker from Andhra Pradesh, said: “I met Mr. Reddy in 2006. He was a wonderful guy and a very dynamic leader who worked for the needy, the downtrodden and the minorities.”

“It’s a great, great loss for the state. He did wonders for Andhra.”