There is a buzz in Hyderabad, the loudest I've heard in all my life. From the auto driver who asked me briskly "CM mila Kya" to the vegetable seller who told me "YS tappipoyadanta" everyone is mourning the death of the incumbent Chief Minister. Tv barring News channels has been blacked out, the Radio plays only devotional songs and even the skies have opened up. Ironically only last week did he make a prediction that the Congress would be victorious even in the 2014 election! Like always death managed to outmaneuver life and everyone is tripping over themselves to compose their own epitapths to the fallen leader. Also, the fact that he died when he was at his most powerful and that too mysteriously only adds spice to this already bestseller. Power intoxicates death. Imagine Benazir Bhutto dying a natural death or Princess Diana dying after her beauty faded away...the glamour associated with victory and the scent of an untimely death really captivates public memory.
I aint no Congress fan but two things I will speak in YSR's favor- he was really powerful, powerful enough to end all nonsense about a seperate Telanagana(atleast for the next 5 years),powerful enough to rid us the naxal menace and powerful enough to choke the stony Sonia to make human sounds. Secondly he really stood for the Telugu Pride and I know it's strange but we've not have many people who've done it. Unlike the Tamilians or Bengalis we take no interest in our heritage or culture.He did not worship the ground walked on by the Gandhi's (though he did named a hundred odd projects after them) but still retained the essence of telugu atma sammanam. We prefer English to Telugu and here is someone who still sports the dhoti!
Not to take away from him the most strident criticisms of his tenure- coercive conversions to christianity and corruption. An editor of a weekly magazine in Hyderabad once told me that the CM and his son could easily outstrip the Ambani's in their wealth. A newspaper, TV channel(ironically named "Sakshi"), steel companies, mining rights, cement factories and of course huge chunks of real estate. The wealth accumulated is apparantly astounding.
All said and done, you cannot take away the fact that he has made it to the top on his own. From the rocky and bloody terrains of Rayalseema to the plush Chief minister's camp office at Punjagutta the struggle has been vicious, brutal and tiring. The immense outpouring of grief is a valid testimony that he is one of the last species of vanishing breed called a grass root politician, not a courtier of a durbar. It is indeed a loss.
The King is dead, the fight has started to find a new one.