By Reshmi AR

The rule of late chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy, is synonymous with welfare governance, empowerment of the farmer and the weaker sections of society. Till the Congress rode to power in 2004 under his stewardship after his Padayatra through the state, farmers' welfare had been a ritualistic item in administration and governance. As soon as he assumed power, Dr. YSR brought in a slew of schemes aimed at alleviating the condition of the farmer, including free electricity to the tiller.

During his Padayatra, Dr. YSR observed that on a first-hand basis that the farmer did not get adequate electricity and water, which left him high and dry, year after year. Immediately after taking over as chief minister, Dr. YSR proved to be a messiah for farmers of the state by issuing orders waiving farmers' loans and directing free supply of electricity to the agricultural sector.

Jalayagnam, Dr. YSR's pioneering initiative to provide irrigation and drinking water to all parts of the state, was a far-sighted step to turn all regions of Andhra Pradesh into verdant expanses. Polavaram, Veligonda in Prakasam district, and Pranahita-Chevella lift irrigation project in Telangana, are among a few of the many irrigation projects Dr. YSR envisioned for a green Andhra Pradesh.

Being a medical doctor himself, Dr. YSR knew the importance of making quality healthcare accessible to the poor. His path-breaking Arogyasri, emulated by several other states across the country, brought the best of corporate healthcare within the reach of the common man. For the first time under his tenure, a poor citizen with no resources could walk into a corporate hospital and get the best of treatment, something beyond the comprehension of the man on the street up until then. 108 and 104 ambulance services brought paramedics to a patient's doorstep and the rest of the treatment regardless of expenditure, was borne by the government.

Fee reimbursement, Dr. YSR's visionary step, ensured that the poorest of the poor found access to quality education across the state. Thanks to his foresight, thousands of youth could get educational empowerment. Many of the students who could become doctors, engineers, pharmacy graduates and scientists fondly recall how it was only on account of Dr. YSR's vision that they could achieve academic milestones which extricated them from poverty.

During the course of his 14 month-long mass contact initiative, Praja Sankalpa Yatra, the current AP chief chief minister and YSR Congress Party chief, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, came across countless instances of students who benefited from the fee reimbursement scheme put in place by Dr. YSR. In particular, students belonging to minority sections could gain educational empowerment.

Pensions to the elderly, widows and the disabled, constituted an important aspect of Dr. YSR's model of welfare governance. It was this inclusive nature of reaching out to the most vulnerable sections of society which endeared him to the people of the state. Dr. YSR's focus on the alleviation of the condition of SC/ST/BC groups and minorities was driven by single-mindedness of purpose.

Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has based his system of governance on Rajanna Rajyam Dr. YSR's ideal, inclusive model of welfare governance. On multiple occasions in the Padayatra, YS Jagan stated that he would walk the extra mile on the path of welfare of governance. And from the day he took over as chief minister, he has walked the talk, proving that all-round development which percolates down to the last individual in the state can power Andhra Pradesh to greater heights.

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