Padayatras have been made a benchmark for the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. There is no such ritual followed to become a Chief Minister in any other Indian state, except AP.
With former Chief Minister late Dr Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and his son Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who is the current CM of AP, being able to reap fortunes in the polls by taking up the walkathons, Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu’s son and the heir apparent, N. Lokesh Babu, is also planning to launch a padayatra to get connected with the masses and win their votes.
It is learnt that the former minister has already roped in a few members from election strategist Prashant Kishore’s (PK) team and drawing out plans of how to execute the proposal. PK was the election strategist for Jagan too.
There is information that Lokesh Babu is weighing options between padayatra and cycle yatra. The TDP cadre seems to be suggesting that Lokesh take up cycle yatra as it would also catapult the party’s symbol into popularity and will also look like he is different from the TD’s arch rival, YCP president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. A final decision has to be taken in this regard.
However, Lokesh, it is learnt, wants to break Jagan’s record by covering more distance, beyond 3,648 km, in the yatra. The mega walkathon is likely to be launched at the end of 2021 and continue till 2023, just a few months before the elections would be held for the state.
Political analysts said that this move was expected and it should be seen if the yatra would give a fresh lease of life to the TDP, which is facing its worst-ever crisis with the BJP, YCP and the TRS targeting it from all sides.
Meanwhile, the TDP cadre also seems to be happy with Chinna babu’s plans. The cadre which is extremely dispirited due to the back-to-back blows are able to see some light at the end of the tunnel. They hope that the yatra will infuse fresh spirit into the cadre.
It is learnt that his father N. Chandrababu Naidu is also helping him out in drawing an action plan and also suggesting ways to plan his future.
Moreover, Lokesh should also focus on avoiding bloopers during his speeches. It is one other area on which he should focus as he is already being trolled in the social media. He needs to exert special thrust in this area too.
The 2024 elections seem to be a fight between the heir apparents of former CMs late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy and N. Chandrababu Naidu. With comparisons already being drawn between both the young politicians, Jagan and Lokesh, AP will certainly witness a neck-to-neck fight between both the regional parties.
Former Chief Minister late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy launched his Praja Prasthanam on April 9, 2003, when he was the leader of the Congress Legislature aprty in undivided AP.
He embarked on a 60-day padayatra and covered 1,500 km through the length and breadth of the state enquiring the common man about his troubles and woes throughout the walkathon which was launched at Chevella in Ranga Reddy district.
YSR padayatra covered 11 districts passing through Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal, Khammam, West and East Godavari, Visakhapatnam, and Vizianagaram districts before it culminated at Ichchapuram in Srikakulam.
During the padayatra, YSR addressed a large number of public meetings too. Through this journey, YSR gave the people a sense of getting connected with the rulers which also revived the fortune of the Congress in the state.
The Congress party which was lacking a proper leader in the state till then found a suitable politician to lead the group and the chord he struck among the masses was so powerful that the party was voted to power with a heavy mandate in 2004.
Continuing the legacy of his father, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy launched his walkathon, Praja Sankalpa Yatra on November 6, 2017, to reach out to the masses in the residuary Andhra Pradesh.
The padayatra was launched at his home town, Idupulapaya in Kadapa district, after paying homage to his father at his memorial. It ended on January 9, 2019, at Ichchapuram in Srikakulam district. Jagan travelled through 13 districts, 135 assembly constituencies, 2,516 villages for 341 days.
The people of AP yielded to Jagan’s appeal of “one chance” and the rest is history.