ON A SULTRY FEBRUARY MORNING that augured a harsh summer ahead, a tiny village in coastal Andhra Pradesh called Rompicherla—in Guntur district, famous for its fiery red chillies—was feverishly preparing itself for the arrival of the man likely to be the state’s next chief minister: Yeduguri Sandinti Jagan Mohan Reddy.
The atmosphere was festive: loudspeakers blared party anthems praising “Jagan anna”; women in the village had decorated the pavements with colourful rangoli, and children in brand new clothes ran helter-skelter, sticks of sugar cane in their hands. A police van circled the area, making sure the roads were clear for Jagan’s arrival. And at the centre of it all, with a sea of yellow marigold petals surrounding its pedestal, was a brand new statue of Jagan’s father, YS Rajasekhara Reddy—known to all as YSR—a lifelong Congressman who was the state’s chief minister from 2004 until his death in 2009.
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