Kommineni Srinivasa Rao

Time files, as they say, and one is reminded of this when one realizes that Leader of Opposition in Andhra Pradesh legislative assembly and YSR Congress party president, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has already completed 200 days on his Praja Sankalpa Yatra. The Padayatra which had commenced at Idupulapaya on November 6, 2017 has been received with tremendous outpouring of affection all along the way. It was expected that people of Rayalaseema would join the Padayatra, attend his rallies and public meetings in a big way, but the eyes of many were on the response he would get in coastal Andhra, notably West Godavari and East Godavari districts. Against his backdrop, the overwhelming response he received from the masses in all these districts, particularly the Godavari districts, the large numbers in which they attended his meetings and listened to his speeches everywhere, as they cheered him, was something striking.

In fact, a Padayatra on this scale has no precedent in the history of the Telugu-speaking states. I have been a journalist for forty years and have seen several Padayatras in the past . When legendary actor NTR first entered politics, people flocked to his rallies to catch a glimpse of the star who had ruled the Telugu film industry for four decades. NTR would travel across the state in his van. Indira Gandhi's rallies and meetings would attract thousands of people. NTR had decades-old charisma associated with films, while Indira Gandhi carved a niche for herself as prime minister. It is amazing to see people flock to YS Jagan's Padayatra and public meetings in thousands, just as they did for Indira Gandhi and NTR.

The widespread anger against the TDP government can be gauged from the thunderous response of the people when YS Jagan refers to the lies and betrayal of promises by Chandrababu. Their vocal endorsement of his statement that people should not fall prey to the empty promises of politicians who cheat them, finds resonance everywhere.

If people flock to his rallies and meetings in thousands, they join him on the padayatra in large numbers. It is truly a sight to behold and a walkathon with few precedents with a mass leader walking along with thousands of people drawn from the poorer sections of society, as YS Jagan pauses here and there to interact with them and lends a patient ear to their tales of suffering. All this calls for patience, discipline and integrity.

In the past, a chief minister danced with tribals, but soon after he went and bathed. One doesn’t have to go far back in time. Recently, when Nayee Brahmins went to meet Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, everyone song how he treated them. His anger was there for all to see.

YS Jagan, on the other hand goes and meets everybody with great affection, giving his interaction a deep personal touch, in a way that one gets goes pimples. All through these 200 days on his Padayatra, he has been interacting with people and gaining an insight into their day to day problems. As Ambati Rambabu, the party's official spokesperson said, people also have come to understand their leader better and relate to him in closer manner. The TDP and its media outlets, tried to undermine the significance of his Padayatra in the early days, and to this day, the Telugu Desam media plays down important events related to the Padayatra.

YS Jagan has moved on with single-minded determination keeping only the interests of the people at heart. He has not merely taken on a master manipulator like Chandrababu Naidu, but has sent a shiver up his spine. A clear example is the manner in which former TDP MLAs have enthusiastically joined YSRCP. Chandrababu seems to have lost the plot on how to face YS Jagan and his Padayatra. That is the reason why he is coming up with all kinds of strange strategies, but he is clearly unnerved by the grit and determination shown by the YSRCP chief. People have seen for themselves, the difference between Chandrababu‘s brand of politics compared to YS Jagan’s. Their spontaneous affection for him and the respect they have for him mirrors this. People hail YS Jagan as the future chief minister in his public meetings. However, in the days ahead poll management and booth management are critical factors which will come into play, as past experience tells us. That the TDP is ready to spend any amount is an open secret. Overcoming all these challenges, YS Jagan has been successful in winning over the people of the state. He deserves our hearty congratulations!