‘I advised YSR against flying in that rain’

Hyderabad, July 9: Former chief minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s widow YS Vijayalakshmi, who is representing Pulivendula in the state Assembly, broke down recalling the day when her husband left for Chittoor district on September 2, 2009 only to die in a helicopter crash.
Unable to overcome the emotion, Vijayamma said at the inaugural of the two-day plenary of YSR Congress Party on Friday in her capacity as honorary president of the party: “On that day I advised him against going to Chittoor district because it was raining. But he had said he would have to go. `If the pilot refuses to fly, then I will come back home,’’ he said but he never came back,” Vijayamma recalled, fighting back the tears that were welling up in her eyes.
Vijayamma, who is not given to making speeches at public meetings, spoke at length on how her husband had brought the Congress to power twice single-handedly, his commitment to improve the living standards of farmers and how she, though her son Jagan Mohan Reddy, would be able to implement the unfinished agenda of her husband.
“Had Rajasekhara Reddy been alive all other irrigation projects, barring the Pranahita-Chevella, would have been completed by now. He always thought of farmers and ways of improving their living standards. He used to discuss their welfare now and then with Jagan Babu. Even on the day when he died, he called Jagan Babu and discussed some issues with him.” Making an appeal to the delegates, she continued: “I am placing Jagan Babu in your hands. Rajasekhara Reddy had shown us what a person who has genuine commitment to the welfare of disadvantaged sections could do if he became chief minister. Jagan Babu has all the traits of his father.” She recalled the humiliation that she, her son and daughter had to face when they met Sonia Gandhi to get her clearance for the Odarpu Yatra. “All of us met Sonia Gandhi. She did not like the idea of Odarpu Yatra. She wanted Jagan Babu to call the family members of those who died in the wake of the demise of YSR to respective district headquarters and pay them some money (solatium). She also insisted that there be not more than one statue of YSR in a district. That pained us.”