September 3, 2009 6:39:10 pm
Lakhs of people bid a tearful farewell to charismatic Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy,who was killed in a helicopter crash,as his body was interred in his family’s expansive estate Idupulapaya after a state funeral.
The last rites were performed in this rural town in Pulivendla constituency after a galaxy of national leaders including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Leader of the Opposition L K Advani joined a sea of humanity that had come all parts of the state to bid adieu to him in Hyderabad.
60-year-old Reddy’s son Jaganmohan (36),the cynosure of all eyes against the backdrop of a succession race for the Chief Minister’s post,was composed with hands folded acknowledging the mourners,many of whom raised slogans like “YSR amar rahe” (long live his memory).
But his wife Vijayalakshmi and daughter Sharmila were inconsolable as they sprinkled earth after the flower-bedecked coffin was lowered into the grave in his 300-acre estate in Kadapa district.
Interim Chief Minister K Rosiah,Union Ministers Ghulam Nabi Azad,V Narayanswamy and Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and ministers of Reddy Cabinet were among the leaders present during the last rites performed in his native village in accordance with Christian practices.
The last journey of the leader,who received a massive mandate for the second consecutive term on the back of various welfare programmes,began from his Begumpet residence in Hyderabad as the coffin,wrapped in tri-colour,was placed on a gun carriage which was pulled by an army truck.
PM Manmohans Singh,Sonia Gandhi,her son Rahul and top leaders of Congress and other political parties including TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu and BJP Leader M Venkaiah Naidu paid homage and placed wreaths on his body.
Union ministers P Chidambaram,A K Antony,M Veerappa Moily,Prithviraj Chavan,besides Delhi CM Sheila Dixit,Rajasthan CM Ashok K Gehlot and several leaders cutting across political divide including his arch rival TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu and BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu paid their homage at his residence.
Reddy’s mortal remains were taken in a funeral procession first to Gandhi Bhavan-the state headquarters of Congress-in Nampally and then to Lal Bahadur Shastri stadium where mourners in large numbers came to pay their last respects.
The cortege moved at a snail’s pace with surging crowds,many among them sobbing uncontrollably,trying to get near it.
Jagan Mohan,Rajya Sabha MP K V P Ramchandra Rao,a close aide of YSR,Congress MP and former cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin were among those who stood near the casket carrying Reddy’s mortal remains.
All state and central government offices,schools,shops and commercial establishments in Andhra Pradesh remained closed in view of the state mourning.
In the afternoon,the body was flown to Idupulapaya in Kadapa,his native district,by an air force helicopter.
The national flag is being flown at half mast during the seven-day state mourning. The charred remains of YSR and four others on board the twin-engine Bell 430 helicopter was spotted on a hillock,about 70 kms east of Kurnool by IAF helicopters at around 8.30 a.m. on Thursday,nearly 24 hours after it lost contact with the Air Traffic Controller at Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad.
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