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Admirers mob 'pilgrim YSR'

By Our Staff Reporter

TIRUPATI June 17. The CLP leader, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, after a 68-day walk covering 1,400 km in the State, was at it again on Tuesday. This time, it was a spiritual trek at the temple town of Tirupati.

While earmarking sufficient time for politics by holding a press conference, where he released an open letter addressed to the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, Dr. Reddy allocated adequate time for the holy cause by offering prayers at a church and a temple.

Dr. Reddy, who arrived by the Tirumala Express that chugged into the Tirupati East station at 9 a.m., more than three hours behind schedule, drove straight to the TTD's Sri Padmavathi guest house, from where, he visited the Christ Church, locally known as West church, and offered prayers there. The pastor, after a sermon, blessed Dr. Reddy and his family members. After having lunch at one of his relatives and a brief rest, he started his pilgrimage to Tirumala.

Enthusiastic party workers and supporters gathered at Alipiri, the foot of the Tirumala hills, an hour before he was expected to arrive at the spot. Notwithstanding the showers that lasted a few minutes, the activists stayed put for a glance of their leader.

When the cavalcade finally arrived, with Dr. Reddy waving to the crowd from one of the cars, buoyant party workers lunged at him from all directions, resulting in pushing and jostling. However, alert cops stationed at the spot swung into action and averted what could otherwise have become a law and order problem.

On seeing Dr. Reddy disembarking from his car at the Alipiri tollgate, party workers started shouting slogans in his praise, while some began throwing flower petals at him as a gesture of welcome. Dr. Reddy and his close follower, B. Karunakar Reddy, immediately shouted down the workers to stop sloganeering and the hurling of flowers, as it could disturb the religious ambience and inconvenience pilgrims.

The CLP leader prostrated at the first step leading to the hills, considered sacred, and started his ascent, accompanied by senior leaders and followed by over a hundred activists.

One thousand four hundred coconuts were broken at the spot to mark the number of kilometres Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy had trekked as part of his "Praja Prasthanam'' from Chevella to Icchapuram.

Visitors galore:The temple town witnessed a huge political crowd with senior leaders of the party, along with their followers, descending on the town to welcome Dr. Rajasekhara Reddy.

Notable among those who called on him were former ministers, K. Bapi Raju, Ponnala Lakshmaiah and Manik Rao, MPs Nandi Yellaiah and Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy, party spokesperson, G. Muddu Krishnama Naidu, district MLAs N.Kirankumar Reddy (Vayalpad), Galla Arunakumari (Chandragiri), Thippeswamy (Palamaner), G. Kuthuhalamma (Vepanjeri), R. Chenga Reddy (Nagari) and K. Prabhakar Reddy (Thamballapalle), apart from scores of leaders from other districts.

However, the absence of the District Congress Committee (DCC) president, Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy, was conspicuous. Dr. Reddy's close follower and Chittoor MLA, C.K. Babu, could not make it as he had been remanded to custody for his alleged involvement in a murder case. A warm welcome was accorded to Dr. Reddy at Tirumala. He was received by top TTD officials.

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