Hyderabad: Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, known better as YSR, died in a helicopter crash, home minister P Chidambaram said on Thursday.
His helicopter was traced in mangled state on Thursday on Rudrakonda hill, 40 nautical miles east of Kurnool, 24 hours after it went missing over a dense forest area dominated by Maoist rebels.
Four others were also killed in the helicopter crash, Chidambaram said.
The state-owned twin engine, seven-seater helicopter, Bell-430, he was flying in disappeared over the Nallamalla forest area in heavy rains at 9.35am on Wednesday, about an hour after it started, state officials said.
The chief minister was on his way from Hyderabad to Chittoor in Rayalaseema region in southern Andhra Pradesh on an official programme.
Reddy, 60, a powerful politician who had never lost an election during his 30-year political career, led the Congress party to victories in both state and Parliament elections in May, and was just months into his second term as chief minister.
He had won his first term as chief minister in 2004, defeating N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party, or TDP, son-in-law of the popular actor-politician and former chief minister N. T. Rama Rao.
Reddy, a second generation Roman Catholic Christian, was born on 8 July 1949 in Pulivendula, a small town in the stateâ€™s Kadapa district. Before taking a plunge into politics in 1978, Reddy served as medical officer at CSI Campbell Hospital in Jammalamadugu in Kadapa district after graduating in medical science from the MR College of Gulbarga.
The four-time Lok Sabha member has served in various capacities both in the state government and in the Congress party. He served the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee as its president twice, once in 1983-85 and then in 1998-2000.
Between 1999 and 2004, he was the leader of the Opposition in the eleventh State Assembly. And earlier, from 1980 to 1983, YSR had also served as a minister in the state government, holding portfolios of rural development, medical and health and education.
Becoming chief minister was a long cherished dream for YSR. Prior to the 2004 state elections, he led an unprecedented 1,400km-long paadayatra covering all the backward areas in the state. He said he was on a mission to understand the ground realities of the people.