A year after his helicopter crashed in the Nallamalla hills of Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajasekhara Reddy is everywhere in Andhra Pradesh. Voters loyal to him appear fanatical as they line up to greet his son as he tours the state in a pointed reminder that he is the heir apparent to YSR's political legacy. For those who may need more convincing or a visual metaphor, Jagan Mohan Reddy has, since May, unveiled nearly 600 statues of his father, the former chief minister.
"He is such a great leader who will stay in our hearts forever. He is an ideal for the coming generation and we have to take forward his wishes ahead,'' states Jagan Mohan, who has defied his party's orders repeatedly on his "odarpu yatra." The Congress wanted YSR Junior to end his tour. Instead, he has announced he will still go on the yatra in Prakasam district from September 3.
Jagan Mohan is meant to focus on the families who claim that in the weeks after YSR's death, their own relatives died from shock and grief (there are some 600 who say they were thus affected). But with his appearances turning into frenzied crowd-pullers, the Congress is worried that its own link to YSR will become a footnote in a new chapter of politics being authored by Jagan and his loyalists. So the party has said it will conduct a parallel programme all over Andhra Pradesh. YSR statues will be included.
With over one lakh rupees spent on each statue, some voters express their dissent. "The money spent on the statues could have been spent on improving the hygiene of Hyderabad and the rest of Andhra Pradesh,'' said a young man in Hyderabad.
Others say tributes to YSR don't have to be this heavy-handed.
"There is nothing wrong in erecting a statue but there should be some limit to this madness. YSR supporters and loyalists in the Congress can plant saplings and ensure that these saplings become trees. So, therefore, even if you plant one lakh trees or one crore trees, it can be an eco-friendly celebration to remember YS Rajashekara Reddy's legacy,'' offers political analyst K Nageshwar.
One of YSR's statues ironically has been installed at one of Hyderabad's most polluted traffic junctions.