To Ysr, With Tears… - Poem by AtreyaSarma Uppaluri
YS Rajasekhara Reddy (Jul 08,1949 – Sep 02,2009) , a charismatic and successful Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (one of the States in India) died in harness while proceeding to have an open interaction with the people of a remote forest village by a copter which, tragically strayed from its scheduled course owing to heavy rain and haze and crashed against a high hill in the dense Nallamala Forests. This poem is a tearful tribute to the departed leader.]
For thirty one long years
YS was in the rough and tumble of politics
Weathering many a storm
And never once tasting an electoral defeat.
YS worked his way up slowly and steadily
Blunting his rough edges in the way
With grit, imagination and vision.
Outgrowing his factionist image
And winning the hearts
Of hundreds and thousands
Of the party rank and file
As well as the general public
He widened his appeal far and wide.
YS launched his historic
Mid severe-summer march,
Meeting millions of people direct
And sharing their weal and woe
Even risking his health and life.
YS’s dusty and scalding odyssey
And his screeching and hoarse
Tete-a-tete with the people
Catapulted him to power
On a wave of solid public support.
YS’s heartfelt concern for the people
His angst for the farmers and the poor
Earned him a fund of good will
That would have easily seen him through
As chief minister for at least fifteen years.
There’s no section of people
No area of the State
That hasn’t benefited
To some extent or the other
From YS’s populist rule.
Every minute he thought of people;
So many welfare schemes
He conceived and put in place.
A medical doctor to begin with
A voracious and keen reader
YS was an impressive communicator
And an accomplished orator
Tapping the diction and idioms
To the hilt – be it Telugu or English.
He never fumbled or groped for words
He was never inane in his expression;
At the same time, he was never a gasbag.
YS was set to get back to Rayalaseema
The old glory of the Vijayanagar days.
The parched Kadapa district
Was all set to march with pride
In industry and higher education
Besides in agriculture, of course.
YS’s unfading smile
His inclusivist attitude
His levels of knowledge
His rustic simplicity
And his native mien
His matchless wit and repartee
Spread an aura around him.
He had developed a charisma
That made him endeared
Above narrow party lines.
YS was a synonym of friendship and trust
No wonder his circle was ever burgeoning.
Loath to meddling in the routine administration
He empowered the hierarchy
With due freedom and delegation.
YS strode like a colossus
Among the leaders of the State
And commanded a rare respect
Even with the party high command.
Allies and foes alike growing envious
Began to plot and rock the YS boat
With every stone and charge
And tried every way to wean away the people
With silly flimsy nebulous sops.
YS stood his ground against fissiparous tendencies
Caring not for the bloating crutches of treacherous allies.
His political acumen, perspicacity, and sterling record
Steered him and his party back to power
Regaining the confidence of people for good measure.
No doubt YS had his political bêtes noire
Some of his decisions might be controversial
But then who is totally free from scandal
In the flux of our realpolitik?
Not even Gandhi, Nehru, and Patel
Not to mention Indira and Rajiv.
YS was an ardent admirer of Rajiv
Alas, likewise his promising career
Was rudely and cruelly cut short
Leaving everyone in a stony daze.
No one even remotely imagined
That a fateful tragedy like this
Was in wolfish store
And would befall this leader of aplomb.
Lo, crashed down his chopper
Crashed away his life
So have people’s hopes and aspirations crashed.
Even as YS leaves
He takes away a string
From every feeling heart.
Whosoever had imagined
That the Deutschland
Would ever wreck
And the lives – saintly and innocent -
Of so many were doomed
To be drowned?
Every inch of the State
YS loved to the core of his heart.
Every man and woman
Every lad and lass of the State
He loved to the core of his being.
YS was a man in a hurry
To develop his State
And with no pause or tarry.
YS chose to die in harness
Trying to reach out
To the deprived people
In the deep fastnesses
Of the interior forests
Of his beloved State.
Though YS is bodily gone
His loving breath
Every hill and rill
Every farm and vale
Of his beloved State.
YS’s void is difficult to fill
Whoever is the successor
Would do well
To constantly bear in mind
YSR’s schemes and dreams
And translate them into deeds
To commemorate him
And to fulfill his pledges
To his beloved people
For whom his heart
Never stopped beating.
[Sep 03,2009: : Greenfield, Wisconsin]
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