Hyderabad, Sep 3 (TOI) : Prime Ministers Office declared on Thursday that Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy died in an air crash.
Five bodies were found at the site where Andhra Pradesh chief minister YSR Reddy chopper’s wreckage has been traced.
The helicopter carrying YSR Reddy, two of his staff and two pilots went missing in pouring rain Wednesday morning over the Naxal and tiger-infested Nalamalla forests.
The government on Thursday confirmed that Nearly 24 hours after YSR's chopper went missing, it was located atop Serai Salem hill, at a distance 40 nautical miles (70 kms) east of Kurnool.
The CM left Hyderabad on a six-seater Bell chopper at 8.35am for Chittoor accompanied by his secretary and chief security officer. After 9.27am, radio contact was lost with the helicopter.
Soon after the chopper lost contact, multiple agencies of the state launched a massive hunt for possible wreckage in the desolate terrain. By evening, it expanded into the country's biggest-ever search operation with satellites in the sky joining remote sensing aircraft, fighter jets, unmanned aerial vehicles, troops on the ground and even barefoot deer-hunting tribals with bows and arrows.
YSR: A doctor with a finger on the public pulse
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Hyderabad, Sep 3 (IANS): A doctor by training, Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, or YSR as he was popularly known, was known for his strong administrative skills and whose second stint as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh this year broke a 53-year-old jinx for the Congress party.
This May he became the first Congress chief minister since the state was formed in 1956 to complete a full five-year term and retain power in elections. The only other chief minister who achieved the fate was N.T. Rama Rao of Telugu Desam Party (TDP).
One of YSR's main achievements was subduing the ultra-left Naxalite insurgency in the state that had one time gripped 21 of its 23 districts. In the process, the People's War Group (PWG), once the dominant Maoist group in India, was crushed beyond recognition.
When he took over as chief minister for the first time on May 14, 2004 from N. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP, it was a dream came true for YSR. The leader from the badlands of Rayalaseema had come up the hard way in his public life spanning three decades and emerged as one of the strongest leaders the Congress has produced in the state.
He has always been a winner. Elected to the state assembly for the fifth time, YSR is also a four-time Lok Sabha member and holds the record of never losing an election.
More than once he proved why he was more popular among masses with his fingers on the public pulse.
Popular as 'people's leader' among his followers, YSR tasted success despite facing a hostile poll campaign from both the TDP-led four party Grand Alliance and the Praja Rajyam Party of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi.
YSR also emerged as one of the few leaders in the country to retain power beating the anti-incumbency factor. What has made his performance more creditable is the fact that he made no big promises and instead highlighted his performance versus the "poor credibility record" of his main rival N. Chandrababu Naidu of TDP.
Banking on his performance and the numerous welfare schemes his government launched during the last five years, YSR retained power despite a three-cornered contest. The man who ran the Congress campaign on his shoulders emerged victorious in the face of hectic electioneering by top stars of the tinsel world in favour of TDP and Praja Rajyam.
Born to a Christian middle class family at Pulivendula, a small town in Kadapa district, on July 8, 1949, YSR made a modest beginning. Eldest of the five sons of Y.S. Raja Reddy, a dynamic local leader in his heydays, he evinced interests in politics while studying at M.R. Medical College, Gulbarga, Karnataka.
After completing his MBBS, YSR served as medical officer at the Jammalamadugu Mission Hospital briefly. In 1973, he established a 70-bed charitable hospital.
He entered active politics in 1978 and was elected to the state assembly from Pulivendula. He served as state minister from 1980 to 1983 and retained the assembly seat in 1983 even when NTR swept to power with a historic victory.
Sensing a potential leader in him, then prime minister Indira Gandhi appointed YSR president of the state unit of Congress when he was only 34.
In 1989, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Kadapa and held the seat till 1999, when he shifted again to state politics. From 1998 to 2000, he again served as president of the state Congress.
Though the party lost the 1999 state elections, YSR emerged as the strongest leader of the party and became the leader of opposition.
The year 2003 was a turning point in his political career as he undertook a 64-day padyatra, or walkathon, across the state. Covering 1,500 km under the scorching sun, he received petitions from people about their problems, mainly relating to agriculture and unemployment.
It was this campaign and a strong anti-incumbency wave against Chandrababu Naidu's government which catapulted YSR to power.
His experiences during the padyatra helped him shape his policies after assuming office as he gave free electricity to farmers, waived their loans, introduced several welfare schemes like pension for the aged, widows and handicapped, housing for poor, Rs.2-a-kg rice, Rajiv Arogyasri or community health insurance scheme and a massive programme to build irrigation projects.
Thanks to these initiatives, the Congress won 156 of Andhra Pradesh's 294 seats and bagged 33 of its 42 Lok Sabha seats this time.
In a message on Independence Day on Aug 15, Reddy said: "The state has witnessed tremendous growth in the past five years when compared to the growth that took place since independence. Our people are a happier lot and are embracing a bright future without any fears."
Andhra CM YSR's Helicopter Traced : Defence Official
The missing helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has been traced in Nallamalla forests in Kurnool district Thursday morning, a defence official said.
"We have located the helicopter. It is on top of a hill at a distance of 40 nautical miles east of Kurnool. We are trying to find out if there are survivors. We are not sure if it has crashed or not," the official told reporters in Kurnool.
"Two Indian Air Force helicopters are over the location trying to find a place to land. Since it is a jungle it is difficult to land there," he said.
IAF helicopters resume search for YSR
Hyderabad, Sep 3 (IANS) Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters Thursday resumed search operations for the helicopter carrying Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, nearly 24 hours after it went missing in the dense Nallamalla forests.
At the day break, at least five IAF helicopters resumed search operations while the army and police intensified the biggest-ever search operation, which has now narrowed down to five kilometres radius in Kurnool district where the chopper was last seen by some villagers.
The fate of the chief minister, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots remained uncertain even a day after the chopper went missing while flying from Hyderabad to Chittoor district.
The chopper carrying YSR, as the 60-year-old chief minister is known, his special secretary Subrahmanyam, his chief security officer A.S.C. Wesley and two pilots, took off 8.35 am Wednesday from Hyderabad and was headed for Chittoor, 588 km away and close to Tamil Nadu.
Chief Secretary P. Ramakant Reddy told reporters that the satellite images captured by a low-flying aircraft of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) could not provide any clue about the missing chopper.
The authorities now hope to get some information from the images taken by two Sukhoi SU-30MKI combat jets of IAF which flew over the area last night.