There are some dates that people will remember. Some of them are part of the Indian freedom struggle. Some dates will be part of the families. These days remain the calendar as special for the people. So is the September 2 (2009) for the people of Andhra Pradesh. It was on this day, ten years ago, they lost their dearest leader, Y S Rajasekhar Reddy. He died in the helicopter crash while going to meet the people in Racha Banda programme in Pileru Assembly constituency of Chittoor district. His helicopter went missing on the day hours after it took off from Begumpet airport. The officials at Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai could not track the helicopter creating somewhat tension in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
Search teams went around the Nallamala forest area and finally traced the remains of the helicopter on September 4. When the death was confirmed or even before the confirmation came from Finance Minister K Rosaiah, there were several hearts that stopped beating across the State. There could be difference of opinion in the number of cardiac arrest cases, but there were several people who died of shock. There were several families that spent sleepless nights those days crying for Rajasekhar Reddy. No leader in the State had earned that much love from the people.
Rajasekhar Reddy was one of the several leaders in the Congress till 2003, when he launched the Padayatra from Chevella in Rangareddy district to Itchapuram in Srikakulam district, ahead of the 2004 general elections. Telugu Desam Party was so strong in those days with Chandrababu Naidu being at the helm as chief minister. People have forgotten the fact that Chandrababu Naidu had unseated N T Rama Rao, who subsequently died later. The Congress was inflicted with squabbles and no leader was allowed to be popular. There were groups within the Congress each fighting against the other. In a word, the Congress was weak with so many strong leaders.
But, when he launched the padayatra, Rajasekhar Reddy moved close to the people, listened to them and understood their problems. When he became chief minister immediately after the 2004 elections, he began to roll out the schemes to address the issues of the people. The fee reimbursement and Arogya Sri were the top schemes that took Rajasekhar Reddy into their hearts. People received higher education with the fee reimbursement and heart surgeries with Arogya Sri. It is for these two schemes, besides others, Rajasekhar Reddy remained in the hearts of the people and thus his death is remembered by them. The man who gave people an opportunity to get engineering and medical education through fee reimbursement and the one who helped them get even cardiac surgeries done and survived through the Arogya Sri, will remember him thus. There is no need for anyone to remind them of this date. It is in their heart, both young and aged as well.