Walking Into History In Style

Historic march now one year old and counting - Sakshi Post

K. Ramachandra Murthy
It was one year ago, on 6 November 2018 to be precise, that YSRCP chief and the Leader of Opposition leader in Andhra Pradesh YS Jagan Mohan Reddy embarked upon the historic walkathon, Praja Sankalpa Yaatra. After covering 3,211 kilometers and 12 districts, the yaatra had to be given a break when an assassination attempt on the popular leader was made at Vizag international airport by a restaurant worker. The unprecedented ‘paadayaatra’ has been the highlight of nine years’ saga of courageous struggle Jagan has been waging against a series of conspiracies hatched by his political rivals.
Jagan’s problems started with the sudden demise of his father YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), the most popular chief minister who won a second term for his party, in an aircrash in the first week of September nine years ago. Many a die-hard loyalist of YSR were heartbroken on hearing that their beloved leader was no more. Hundreds of families lost their breadwinners. After performing the last rites of his father, the young leader addressed a gathering of mourners at Idupulapaya in Kadapa district. He declared that he would be visiting every house that lost a person to console the bereaved families.
On seeing that Jagan’s ‘Odaarpu Yaatra’ was gaining traction attracting huge crowds with his popularity soaring, the rivals in the Congress party carried tales to the party’s supremo Sonia Gandhi and convinced her that the yaatra has to be stopped in order to contain YSR’s son. Jagan was summoned by the party high command to Delhi. He went there with his mother Vijayamma and sister Sharmila. Sonia asked them to stop the yaatra and instead call members of the affected families in a district to the headquarters and talk to them. Jagan was quick to ask as to why UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh travelled all the way from Delhi to Hyderabad to console him and his family after YSR died in tragic circumstances.
Asking people to travel to district headquarters is not in keeping with our tradition, he told the
numero uno. When the Congress chief did not budge and insisted on his following her diktat, Jagan made his decision then and there and bade goodbye to the party that did not respect his sentiment. It calls for guts to defy the most powerful person in the country and walk out of the party to launch his own outfit. That crucial decision taken in order to keep the word he had given at Idupulapaya to visit the the families of his father’s sentimental admirers who followed him even in his death, led to a catastrophe which would have disheartened and destroyed an ordinary soul. Jagan, however, is made of a sterner stuff.
Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Jagan’s bete noire, conspired with Congress leaders like P
Chidambaram, the then Union Home Minister, to abuse the CBI to foist false cases against the
Opposition leader and put him in jail. He was not allowed to get bail for 16 months. Any other person would have got relief in such circumstances in a matter of weeks. Naidu’s manipulative skills and his extraordinary ability to manage institutions saw to it that his young challenger underwent incarceration for a long duration. The CBI was followed by Enforcement Directorate to attach properties belonging to Jagan’s family to immobilize him, particularly to force the closure of Sakshi Media Group which has been presenting the other side of the coin to the readers and viewers since its inception.
The High Court intervened to prevent throttling of the media voice. The CBI court refused to give permission to Jagan to skip the hearings during his paadayaatra. He was asked to appear before the court on every Friday. This did not deter him from undertaking the arduous task of walking through all the three seasons of the year during which time he met the poor, the disabled, the destitute, the exploited and heard their tales of misery. He hugged them, wept with them, shared their sorrow and accused the ruling party of letting down the people while giving them hope and confidence promising a better tomorrow. Political pundits were surprised to see the crowds swell even after completing Rayalaseema and entering South Coastal Andhra. The famous walker would address a massive meeting on every alternate day lambasting the government and selling his dream for the people.
The ‘Navaratnas’ (nine welfare and development measures) he proposed have become quite popular. It was literally a marathon to the seat of power that unnerved the rivals. The result was the conspiracy to assassinate him. The attempt on Jagan’s life by J Srinivasa Rao, a young man employed at the Fusion Foods, an eatery in the airport, providentially
failed. The food joint is owned by one Harsh Vardhan Prasad Chowdary, a TDP leader who tried for a party ticket for Gajuwaka constituency in the last elections. Srinivasa Rao tried to attack Jagan’s neck with a sharp knife used in cock-fights. Had it hit the target it would have been fatal. Jagan’s fast reflexes helped him in dodging the blade which left a cut on his left shoulder. It was bleeding. He was given first aid and allowed to fly to Hyderabad as scheduled. After a bandage was put on the wound, he changed his shirt so that his followers are not upset. Within minutes of Jagan’s leaving Vizag, the DGP of Andhra Pradesh told the media that the attempt was made by Jagan’s follower for the sake of publicity. He was able to reel out details of the caste of the assailant and his background.
It appeared as though the senior IPS officer was well prepared with the information even before any investigation was initiated. A flexi was introduced into the narrative with an ulterior motive of proving that the assailant was truly a Jagan fan.
On reaching Shamshabad airport, Jagan Mohan Reddy was attended to by doctors and he went
straight to the Citi Neuro Centre at Jubilee Hills. The doctors had to deepen the wound and send the blood sample for examination at a Mumbai forensic laboratory to rule out the possibility of the knife containing poisonous application (The report said there was no poison on the knife). In the process, he was given sedatives. The visual showing Jagan sleeping in the hospital went viral in social and electronic media.
In the evening, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu addressed media conference in which he ridiculed the Opposition leader for ‘pretending’ to be hurt and enacting ‘dramas.’ The loose and reckless talk indulged in by Naidu made him extremely unpopular even among his community. Soon after reaching hospital Jagan posted a tweet saying that he is alright and appealing to  party-men to observe restraint and maintain calm. Changing the shirt and giving
the tweet showed how mature the Leader of the Opposition was, in contrast to the irresponsible way the chief minister spoke immaturely about the incident without showing the courtesy of calling the wounded leader to express his sympathy. So much for his forty years of experience in politics and seniority he claims!
Doctors advised two week’s rest and Jagan is scheduled to leave Hyderabad for
Vizag on Sunday to continue with his walk. There were paadayaatras earlier. Not to speak of Sankaracharya and others in ancient times, former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar walked from Kanykumari to Delhi in 1980s before he became PM. He used to walk in the villages and towns travelling in a vehicle on roads between the habitats. The next well documented paadayaatra was undertaken by Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy, Jagan’s father,
in 2003 from Chevella in Ranga Reddy district to Ichhaapuram in Srikakulam district.
Jagan’s younger sister Sharmila, also walked the length of the undivided State of Andhra Pradesh when her brother was in jail. Chandrababu Naidu walked in 2013 and was rewarded with the helmsmanship of AP. The latest and the longest walker is Jagan who is all set to become the next chief minister as almost all the surveys suggest. The walkers had always reached their goal.

Also Read: YS Jagan, A Mass Leader Whose Words Match Deeds

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