"I wish we had Rajasekhara Reddy to fight the challenges in our country": Congress leader Digvijaya Singh
Calling late YS Rajasekha Reddy the Gandhian leader of Andhra Pradesh, Singh recalled his pro-minorities policies and his pro-people legacy on Reddy's death anniversary
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh has said former chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, the late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy introduced and implemented several welfare schemes helping the poor that were the key policies of the party.
Reddy's commitment to the farmers and the poor was unparalleled, Singh said during a book release function organised on the occasion of Reddy's death anniversary on Saturday, 2 September.
"Today as we pay homage to Rajasekhara Reddy, let us be very clear that the policies that he implemented were the policies of the Congress party, were the policies of Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. They were the policies of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi which he continued and effectively implemented as a chief minister of Andhra Pradesh helping the poor. This is something which we have to understand," Singh said.
The veteran Congress leader, a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh himself, called the basic policies taken up by Reddy "pro-poor, pro-deprived sections and pro-minorities".
Singh mentioned schemes giving free power to farmers, health insurance, free ambulance service, housing, minimum support price (MSP) to paddy farmers, irrigation projects, fee reimbursement scheme and reservation to minorities in professional institutions. He also mentioned Reddy's management of the Naxalite movement in his time: "When he became the chief minister, there was a strong Naxalite movement. But he politically... intelligently brought them (people involved in the movement) into the mainstream," Singh said.
"Had Rajasekhara Reddy not been snatched away, things would have been much different in Andhra Pradesh and in Telangana today," Singh said, adding that Reddy was not only a political leader but a strategist. "A friend of the poor and minorities... a Gandhian in his own way," he called Reddy.
Singh also mentioned that Reddy had upheld the importance of the padayatra (procession on-foot) in Indian politics: "His 1,400 km walk made a huge difference.
"It was his leadership which ultimately brought the change and we won back Andhra Pradesh. If you see the results... if Andhra Pradesh state had not given us the kind of mandate which it gave us in 2004 and 2009 Parliament elections, probably (the) UPA government may not have been formed," he said.
Reddy had literally walked his way to power in 2004, after undertaking a foot march in then undivided-Andhra Pradesh in 2003.
Reddy led the Congress to a grand victory in the 2004 Legislative Assembly elections in undivided Andhra Pradesh. He returned to power in 2009, but died in a chopper crash on this day in 2009, in the Nallamala forest range soon after assuming office for the second term.
Without naming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said: "We have got challenges in the country. We have a leadership in the country who has scant respect for the Constitution and the biggest challenge, the way the polarisation is taking place in the country. I wish we had Rajasekhara Reddy to fight these challenges."
Telangana Congress president and MP A Revanth Reddy, among other party leaders, was also present on the occasion.