Row over name changes, YSR’s statues in Andhra Pradesh

A row has erupted over the change of names of institutions and the statues of late Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) following the change of guard in Andhra Pradesh.

The state witnessed a series of incidents since June 4 when the results of Assembly and Lok Sabha elections were declared.

With the alliance led by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) storming to power with a landslide majority, TDP cadres not only removed the name of YSR from an institution and a landmark but also opposed the installation of his statues.

In the latest incident, YSR’s statue was removed from Sri Krishnadevaraya University on Friday. The statue was installed on the campus six months ago and it was ready to be unveiled. Student groups backed by TDP had alleged that the statue was installed without approval from the varsity’s governing council.

With the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) losing power, the university authorities removed the statue.

Also on Friday, TDP leaders staged a protest at Vikrama Simhapuri University in Nellore over the installation of YSR’s statue on the campus.

YSR, father of outgoing Chief Minister and YSRCP President Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, was the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh between 2004 and 2009. After coming to power in 2019, Jagan Mohan Reddy named many welfare schemes of his government after the late leader.

On June 4 when the trends showed that the alliance was heading for a clean sweep, TDP activists replaced the name board of Dr YSR University of Health Sciences (Dr YSRUHS) in Vijayawada with one having Dr NTR University of Health Sciences (Dr NTRUHS)’ written on it, even before the poll results were announced.

The plaque on the base of YSR’s statue on the campus was also damaged.

The health university was the brainchild of former Chief Minister and TDP founder late Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao. NTR, as the late leader was popularly known, had inaugurated the university in 1986. After his death in 1995, then-Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu named the university after the legendary actor-turned-politician. However, the YSRCP government in 2022 changed the name of the university to Dr YSRUHS. The Assembly passed a Bill in September 2022 renaming the university after YSR amid protests by the TDP members.

Then Speaker Tammineni Sitaram had suspended the TDP MLAs from the House as they climbed on the Speaker’s podium, tore papers and threw those on the Speaker.

In another incident on June 4, supporters of the TDP and its allies put up a banner of ‘Abdul Kalam View Point’ over the board of ‘YSR View Point’ at Jodugullapalem in Visakhapatnam. Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) last year renamed the ‘Abdul Kalam View Point’ the ‘YSR View Point’. This move had drawn widespread criticism from opposition parties, who accused the YSRCP government of being disrespectful to the legacy of the former President.

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