“Why are you hiding YSR? He is the man of the moment.”
My former boss, a guru to many Internet journalists, wasn’t amused when I downplayed the story of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy’s huge victory at the Assembly elections in 2004.
I justified myself, saying that Delhi was certainly more interesting than Andhra Pradesh on a day when the Lok Sabha election results were announced. The entire nation was too busy discussing if Sonia Gandhi should become Prime Minister.
“You must be able to see what YSR has done and achieved. Haven’t you heard about his Padayaatra and his mass support? His efforts are helping the Congress come back to power after 10 years. So put it as the second lead on home page,” my boss ordered.
I grudgingly obeyed, believing that I knew better.
My resentment faded when I read the newspapers the next day. All of them had given YSR great prominence — just like my boss had predicted.
I forced myself to read the details of his 1400-km foot pilgrimage (Padayaatra) to the backward areas of the state, his humanitarianism and his popular support.
Five years later, during the Assembly elections held in May 2009, there were stories about corruption charges against YSR. I brushed them aside because by then, I’d read and listened enough to know these stories were not true.
I don’t know what my previous boss would have said to my not giving importance to those stories.
If he had asked me to highlight those stories, I would probably have said: “Sir, he will be the man of the hour this time, too.”
On a day when the nation mourns his death, I know the footprints YSR has left behind will continue to inspire generations.