Born in a middle-class family, completing his medical studies, he became a medical officer. He established a 70-bed charitable hospital and became a household name as 'Rs 1 doctor'. He plunged into politics and turned Chief Minister of United Andhra. He started several popular pro-poor schemes including Rs 2 per kg rice. He is none other than late YS Rajasekhara Reddy.
Yeduguri Sandinti Rajasekhara Reddy, who is fondly known as YSR, joined active politics in 1978 and won every election he contested. He was elected to the 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Lok Sabha from the Kadapa constituency. He was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly for five terms from the Pulivendula constituency.
YSR's 3-month-long Padayatra
YSR undertook a three-month-long padayatra as a part of his election campaign in 2003. He walked 1475 km across several districts in Andhra Pradesh during the summers. He led his party to victory in general and assembly elections held in 2004. After he became the Chief Minister of AP, he worked towards the welfare of all sections of society, especially farmers, poor and down-trodden people.
Uttam Kumar Reddy, the President of Telangana Congress, tweeted, "Remembering esteemed colleague & friend Dr YSR. He was a sincere committed Congressman whose padayatra was one of the main reasons for @INCIndia coming to power in combined AP. As CM, he won the hearts of all sections of society with his hugely popular schemes. #YSRLivesOn."
During his tenure as Chief Minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy started several initiatives and some of them were first of its kind. As promised during the election campaign, he provided free electricity for farmers on the first day of his tenure in 2004. His main emphasis was on social welfare, with a majority of his projects targeted at reducing rural poverty.
Health care system is still lagging behind in some parts of India even today and many states did not have health insurance until Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Ayushman Bharat card a few years ago. YSR was probable the first CM in India to bring it. He started a health insurance program called Rajiv Arogya Shree for rural people living below the poverty line (white cardholders). The entire cost of any necessary surgery up to R 2 lakh was paid under this program.
YSR was the first CM in the country to launch free public ambulance service. He started Pavala Vaddi program, which provided loans at 3% interest to encourage small businesses and entrepreneurship by rural women. He provided houses to the rural poor people under Indiramma illu scheme. He provided a kilogram of rice for two rupees to reduce hunger.
His government gave full reimbursement of college tuition for the underprivileged and reservations for minorities were instituted. His tenure also saw the significant weakening of the violent extremist left-wing Naxalite movement that was rampant in the state when he assumed office in 2004.
One noticeable thing is that YSR gave prominence to solve the problems faced by farmers. Besides free electricity, the YSR government also started some welfare schemes for them. He commenced the Jala Yagnam project to irrigate 10,000,000 acres of land through the construction of major, medium and minor irrigation projects.
YSR's birthday to be celebrated as Rythu Dinotsavam (Farmer's Day)
Ten years after his death, YSR's son Jagan Mohan Reddy is holding the same position of Chief Minister. He is trying to fulfil his father's dreams. July 8 happened to be 71st birth anniversary of YS Rajasekhara Reddy. The AP CM announced that his birthday would be celebrated as Rythu Dinotsavam (Farmer's Day).
The Governor of Andhra Pradesh tweeted, "Hon'ble Governor Sri Biswa Bhusan Harichandan paid tributes to former Chief Minister Dr #YSRajasekharaReddy on #YSRJayanthi. Governor said he loved farmers & spent his life dedicated to their welfare. AP Govt declared his birthday as AP #FarmersDay #YSRRythuDinotsavam #YSRForever."
Young politician Y Vikranth Reddy tweeted, "During YSR Garu's reign farmland flourished & farmers, the backbone of our state, headed towards prosperity. Today, on the occasion of #RythuDinotsavam, AP Govt will pay interest subsidy dues amounting to 1053.42 Cr directly into the bank accounts of farmers. #LegendYSRJayanthi."