Tragedies dog the Yeduguri Sandinti family

M Somasekhar Hyderabad | Updated on March 21, 2019

YSR Congress President YS Jaganmohan Reddy   -  THE HINDU

In three decades, tragedy has struck virtually with precision, every 10th year in the powerful Yeduguri Sandinti (YS) family of Kadapa district, Rayalseema in Andhra Pradesh.

In 1998, the patriarch of the YS family, YS Raja Reddy (73) was killed in a bomb attack by a rival faction, just before the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections. N Chandrababu Naidu was Chief Minister and the Telugu Desam Party was in power.

After a decade, on September 2, 2009, his son YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR), the then CM of united Andhra Pradesh died as the Bell 430 helicopter in which he was flying vanished mysteriously over the Nallamalla forests of Kurnool.

Its wreckage was found a day later and all the five occupants including YSR were dead and their bodies charred out of recognition.

Exactly 10 years later on March 15, 2019, YS Vivekanand Reddy, younger brother of YSR, was found dead in his own house in Pulivendula, Kadapa district. First reports suggested it was a case of cardiac arrest. But, after post mortem, police concluded that it was a homicide.

As mystery surrounds the reasons for the murder of 68-year-old Reddy, two time MP, twice MLA and Minister in the Cabinet of Kiran Kumar Reddy during 2011-14, a bitter political war has broken out between the YSR Congress and the ruling Telugu Desam.

YS Jaganmohan Reddy, son of YSR and president YSR Congress, has launched a direct attack on Naidu alleging his involvement in the mysterious death of Vivekanand Reddy and demanded a CBI enquiry after meeting the Governor, ESL Narasimhan and presenting a memorandum.

The rise of the YS family

Raja Reddy initially struggled as a contractor and his break came after getting into Barytes mining. His eldest of five sons, an engineer joined him, while YSR was pursuing medicine in Karnataka.

The family grew in wealth, political influence in the district with YSR joining his father in both the spheres in late 1970s. Not only did they start prospering through mining, taking over AP Carbides and executing contracts but expanded their political clout. The murder of Raja Reddy in 1998 (he was killed in a bomb attack while returning home in Pulivendula) was a major setback for the YS family. With Naidu’s TDP winning the elections in the same year made matters worse.

The mantle fell on YSR, who was a senior to Naidu in Rayalseema politics, but had to don an opposition leader role. After biding his time as an MP during PV Narasimha Rao’s time and most of the 1999-2003 period, YSR played a serious opposition leader role and took to the now famous Padayatra from Chevalla to Ichapuram in Srikakulam in 2003.

His efforts won him and then Cong(I), a decisive verdict in the 2004 Assembly and Parliament election in Andhra Pradesh. It was ‘sweet revenge’ for YSR over Naidu, who had during a decade in power dealt with the faction groups strongly, with opponents alleging that the TDP had targeted and eliminated opposition only while those within the party became stronger.

It is said the case of Paritala Ravindra, his Delhi innings and opposition leader role in AP brought about the change in YSR from an angry, aggressive and vengeful leader to a sophisticated and politically ambitious one.

His tenure as CM during 2004-09 saw him emerge as the most powerful Cong(I) CM supporting the Manmohan Singh government and winning the trust of Sonia Gandhi. In the State he ruled with an iron hand and Naidu was pushed into political hibernation.

Faction leaders were controlled. One of the strong faction leader of Anantapur and senior TDP leader Paritala Ravindra was dramatically murdered in 2005 at his party office by rival faction group.

Tough times again

However, fate cut short his rise in 2009, after winning a closely fought battle against the Mahakutami of TDP and TRS and Telangana sentiment, he died in a helicopter accident. At this point, his brother YS Vivekanand Reddy entered politics by becoming an MP from Kadapa.

Initially, YSR kept his son YS Jaganmohan Reddy in check in politics and the latter got into business. However, in 2009, Jaganmohan managed to break into politics with a handsome victory in Kadapa. The sudden death of YSR catapulted him into full fledged politics within months.

In the internecine politics of the Cong(I) in the State and Delhi, Jagan’s ambition of succeeding his father failed. He floated his own party called YSR Congress Party with an aim to leverage YSR’s strong goodwill among the masses. At the same time, YS Vivekanand decided to sail with the Cong(I) like KVP Ramachandra Rao, the most trusted friend of YSR.

In the 2014 elections after the bifurcation of AP and creation of Telangana, Naidu’s TDP with support from the BJP came to power in a last minute swing. In the 5 years, YS Jagan kept up a relentless attack on Naidu’s rule, highlighting his failures on building of a capital in Amaravati to securing special category status. He even replicated his father’s Padayatra by walking over 3,000 km in nearly a year in the run up to the 2019 elections.

As the YSR Congress and TDP prepare for a no-holds barred election battle on April 11, the murder of YS Vivekanand has rekindled fears of violence and faction fracas in the coming weeks.

Published on March 18, 2019

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