Apr 14, 2008

Chandrababu Naidu And TDP Are Planning To Use NTR (junior) Also Father-in-law

NT Rama Rao’s legacy lives on

Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) must be smiling in heaven. 13 years after his death, the major political parties in the fray in Andhra Pradesh are competing with each other to claim his legacy. “He would have found it extremely gratifying, the way both the Telugu Desam Party and Congress think how swearing by his name will help them win the polls,” says an old associate of NTR not willing to be named.

While Chandrababu Naidu carrying the cross of stabbing his father-in-law in the back, has been assiduously cultivating other members of the NTR family for the last one year, the latest to use his name is none other than Congress chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. While inaugurating the Rs 2-a-kg rice deal for below poverty line (BPL) families a few days ago, YSR acknowledged that the scheme had been introduced by NTR though he was now extending it to cover a larger proportion of the population. A few days before that, speaking in a legislative assembly debate YSR suo motu raised the subject of Begumpet airport and how it could be possibly resurrected for internal use. The chief minister also volunteered that the airport could well be named as NT Rama Rao airport.

“Though TDP had held a low-key demonstration demanding that one of the terminals of the new Shamshabad airport be named after NTR, it is unusual for a Congress chief minister to himself come up with an alternate plan,” an analyst said.

In the meanwhile, NTR’s widow Lakshmi Parvati has also been seen confabulating with top Congress guns of the state in the last few days. When questioned by TOI, a senior minister of the YSR government seen chatting with her said: “She may not be joining the Congress. But yes, she has promised us all help and will damage Naidu with all her mite.”

Chandrababu Naidu and TDP are planning to use NTR (junior), the grandson of the original and also a film actor in a big way in the forthcoming election campaign. Though ostensibly he will be used to neutralise the impact of Chiranjeevi jumping into the fray, the play on the name NTR is not lost on observers. NTR junior’s father (and NTR’s son), actor Harikrishna has also become active in TDP affairs lately and Naidu has made him a Rajya Sabha member effective this month.

Naidu has forged closer family ties with Balakrishna, another son of NTR and also a film actor. This by marrying his son with Balakrishna’s daughter late last year.

Earlier on in the 2004 elections, the Congress gave a Lok Sabha ticket to NTR’s daughter Purandareswari and an assembly ticket to his son-in-law D Venkateswara Rao. Both were estranged from Chandrababu Naidu. In the event both won in the elections and although in her first term Purandareswari was made an Union minister of state in the Manmohan Singh government. She continues in the ministry.

The latest addition to the Andhra Pradesh political scenario is to be mega star Chiranjeevi, who is launching his own party in a few week’s time. “He has obviously been inspired by the legacy of NT Rama Rao, who successfully leapt from stardom to the chief minister’s gaddi,” said a political analyst. The legacy of NTR thus lives on.