Month after YSR's Death, Uncertainty Persists in Andhra

Hyderabad, Oct 2 (IANS) One month after the helicopter crash that killed chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, Andhra Pradesh continues to be in a limbo -- as investigators struggle for clues, political confusion also persists with the ruling Congress split on the issue of anointing his son Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy as political successor.

The reasons for the Sep 2 crash, which plunged the state into shock and triggered chaos in the ruling party, remains a mystery though four simultaneous probes were ordered by the state and central governments.

Though the preliminary investigations have prima facie indicated that bad weather led to the crash on a hillock in the dense Nallamalla forests in Kurnool district, none of the agencies probing the crash have so far come out with their findings.

YSR, as the chief minister was popularly known, his special secretary, chief security officer and two pilots were killed that fateful morning, an hour after the Bell 430 chopper took off from Hyderabad for Chittoor district.

The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Crime Investigation Department (CID) of state police, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as a two-member panel formed by the state government are still trying to determine if it was human error or a technical failure.

Officials engaged in the four parallel inquiries are looking into all angles, including sabotage, and trying to find answers to the many questions that continue to haunt -- was a weather warning issued, was the chopper was properly checked, was there a lapse in responding to distress calls from the crew?

The Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), or black box, which could help the investigators find an answer to almost all questions, is yet to be decoded. As it was found in a damaged condition and it was difficult to decode it in India, the DGCA has sent it to the US.

While the investigators work to find the cause of the crash, the ruling party is struggling to meet the challenges thrown by the sudden death of YSR.

Though the demand for making YSR's son Jagan the successor was raised by his supporters even before the chief minister was laid to rest in his native Kadapa district, the party does not appear keen to give in.

Resignation threats by some ministers and legislators have not worked either and it seems the leadership is likely to continue with K. Rosaiah as the chief minister. The 77-year-old, who is also the finance minister, had taken oath as chief minister on Sep 3 and he is now being supported by some senior leaders.

Jagan visited the crash site on Sep 25 to offer floral tributes to his father. He later addressed a massive public meeting, where he dropped hints that he was ready to take up the mantle. This did not go unnoticed in New Delhi.

In his death, YSR, who faced no opposition from his detractors within the party for five years, has left the party vertically divided. Even the reported deaths of 60 people due to shock after his death have triggered a bitter war of words between Jagan's supporters and opponents.

While ministers loyal to YSR and Jagan claim that 60 people either committed suicide or died of shock after learning about his death in the crash, their rivals like Rajya Sabha member V. Hanumantha Rao have termed the claims as bogus.


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Title: Month after YSR's Death, Uncertainty Persists in Andhra

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