There was a spontaneous outpouring of grief throughout Andhra Pradesh as news about the tragic death of Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy spread on Thursday.

Thousands of men, women and youth, from all walks of life and across the State, gathered near the Chief Minister’s residence — some weeping inconsolably, while others recalling with gratitude the several welfare schemes implemented by him. They all echoed the same thought — “we will not see such a great leader of the people again.”

Said Suresh, a software engineer, “I am YSR’s fan. I was here, at this very place, three months ago celebrating his victory. I never imagined I would see such a tragic turn of events. Who can forget a leader who did everything for the poor and common man,” saying so he wept.

B. Purushottam, a retired BSNL employee, said he had come to pay the last respects to the dynamic leader. “My political ideology is different, but I respect his work for the poor. History will remember him.”

Congress leader A.L. Mallayya said that in his 60 years, he had never seen a Chief Minister like Dr. Reddy. His Rajiv Arogyasri Scheme (for health insurance) helped several poor parents to give their children a fresh lease of life, he said with moist eyes.

The most poignant statement came from Jayaprakash, a resident of Kadapa, who recollected how the Chief Minister had personally helped his ailing father. “Farmers have been orphaned by his death.”

A pall of gloom descended on the State Secretariat and the State Congress party office in the Gandhi Bhavan. Ministers, legislators and senior Congress leaders looked visibly upset and lost as the news of Dr. Reddy’s demise spread.

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