Tuesday, September 1, 2020

~ becoming Chief Minister from tinseldom ... and losing power to .. !!!

What is the most sought after thing in life – ‘Wealth ? (riches), Fame, Power (Authority), Good family, Followers! ~ will these or all of these ensure happiness and peace !!  .. .. did have any opponents at all ?  --  yet !!!

After the National Independence and after the first General Elections, the first Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was P.S. Kumaraswamy Raja; then Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari; K Kamaraj; M Bakthavatsalam – then CN Annadurai,  M Karunanidhi,  MG Ramachandran,  VN Janaki Ramachiandran,  J Jayalalithaa (all associated with Cine field), then O. Panneerselvam and presently Edappadi K. Palaniswami.  Our neighbouring State has had a different history, with many of its CMs having donned a bigger role in National politics.  Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu was CM  of the Madras Presidency, and subsequently became the first chief minister of the new Andhra state, created by the partition of Madras State along linguistic lines.   .. .. and then came this man in 1983

           ....I was born in a poor agricultural family in a remote village and have known poverty. I had to earn for my education and I have completed my education with one meal a day. Due to my hard work, discipline and the God's kindness, I became an actor of repute and have acted in several hundred films in a variety of roles. My achievements in the cine-field are well known. Though I was pre-occupied with my film industry, I always did my best to help my poor countrymen especially the villagers....... read his oath in Court

 

The man - Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (more popularly NTR) started his film career with a walk-on role as a policeman in Mana Desam (1949). Following this, he appeared in Palletoori Pilla, directed by B. A. Subba Rao. His first mythological film was in 1957, where he portrayed Krishna in the blockbuster film Maya Bazaar. He played Krishna in 17 films,[33] including some landmark films such as Sri Krishnarjuna Yudham (1962), the Tamil film Karnan (1964) and Daana Veera Soora Karna (1977). He was also known for his portrayal of Lord Rama, essaying that role in films such as Lava Kusha (1963) and Shri Ramanjaneya Yuddham (1974) to name a few.  There was a time when Andhraites visiting Chennai would not go without seeing or at least seeing the house where NTR lived.

Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (28 May 1923 – 18 January 1996) was an  actor, producer, director, film editor and politician who served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for seven years over three terms. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema and one of the two legends of Telugu cinema, along with Akkineni Nageswara Rao.  NTR received three National Film Awards for co-producing Thodu Dongalu (1954) and Seetharama Kalyanam (1960) under National Art Theater, Madras, and for directing Varakatnam (1970)


After long  career in films, NTR entered politics. He founded the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982 and served three tumultuous terms as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1983 and 1995. He was known as an advocate of Andhra Pradesh's distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from the erstwhile Madras State with which it was often associated. At the national level, he was instrumental in the formation of the National Front, a coalition of non-Congress parties which governed India from 1989 until 1990.

In the year India won Prudential World Cup [1983],  NTR’s  TDP allied with the Sanjaya Vichara Manch party and decided to field educated candidates  and were not indulging in corruption, which was an innovative political concept at the time. NTR himself decided to contest from two assembly constituencies, Gudivada and Tirupati. NTR used many innovative ways of campaigning, such as being the first politician in India to use rath yatras for campaigning. He used a modified Chevrolet van which was given the name of Chaitanya Ratham.   With his son Nandamuri Harikrishna, also a film actor, driving the van, NTR notched up over 75,000 kilometres during his campaign, a distinctive sight with the van's yellow party flags and banners and NTR sitting on top of the vehicle hailing the crowds.  In the elections, the TDP won by an absolute majority, winning 202 out of the 294 seats in the state assembly,  NTR was sworn in as the 10th and the first non-Congress Chief Minister on 9.1.1983.

He was to lose power an year later as on 15.8.1984,  NTR was removed from office by the then Governor of Andhra Pradesh Thakur Ram Lal, while NTR was in the US to undergo open heart surgery.  His finance minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, a former Congressman who was the chief architect of the TDP during its inception, was made the Chief Minister by the Governor Thakur Ram Lal.  Upon his return after surgery, NTR disputed the claims of Bhaskara Rao and demonstrated   his strength by bringing all the MLAs supporting him, which was a majority in the 294 member assembly, to the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office).  The then PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi, removed Governor Ramlal and appointed a Congress veteran, Shankar Dayal Sharma. 

On 31.10.1984, Ms Indira Gandhi was   assassinated and was succeeded as prime minister by her son, Rajiv Gandhi. In the ensuing national elections to the Lok Sabha, the Congress, riding on the sympathy wave caused by Gandhi's assassination, won convincingly all over the country except in Andhra Pradesh where the TDP secured a landslide victory. TDP became the first regional party to serve as the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha.


In 1985,  NTR recommended dissolution of the Assembly and called for fresh elections the following year in the state to ensure that the people had a fresh choice to elect their representatives. The TDP again won with a massive majority in those elections, with NTR winning from 3 seats; Hindupur, Nalgonda and Gudivada.   In the Dec 1989 assembly elections however, he was voted out of power due to a wave of anti-incumbency sweeping the state as a result of which the Congress returned to power. NTR himself lost from Kalwakurthy by a narrow margin to the Congress,  but retained the Hindupur assembly seat.  His health too deteriorated.  

During 1989, he established himself in national politics, forming a coalition of non-Congress parties opposed to the Congress known as the National Front.  In 1994, NTR returned to power for a third and final time.  His  alliance won 269 seats in the 294 seat Assembly, with the TDP alone winning 226. The Congress, which once again had multiple Chief Ministers in the state during its five-year rule between 1989 and 1994, won only 26 seats. NTR contested again from Hindupur and won the seat for the third consecutive time,  achieving a rare hat-trick of wins from the same assembly constituency. He also won from another assembly constituency, Tekkali.

But, his son-in-law Chandra Babu Naidu led a revolt in the party against NTR, showing his 2nd wife Lakshmi Parvathi's interference in the administration as a reason and that led to his becoming the CM in 1995 replacing NTR.  That was perhaps the falling phase in his glorious career.  He tried every measure to reclaim his post and when Rayalaseema agitations were on,   Rama Rao took the protestors by surprise when he joined them in blocking entry to the state secretariat - by lying flat on the road.  Taken aback, the agitators led by Congress(I) MLAs made way for the chief minister to enter. But he did the unexpected - he declared he would discuss matters with the "brothers from Rayalaseema" then and there, on the road itself. A man who had ruled the State thrice,  spread his green-coloured shawl on the road and settled down for amid-day nap.

He challenged the takeover of the Government which was decided by the Andhra High Court in citation :  N.T. Rama Rao vs His Excellency The Governor Of  Andhra Pradesh on 22 December, 1995 – its preamble read “a dispute which parties are not ready to call inter party dispute has come to the Court in phases, first by certain persons who thought that public interest was in jeopardy with such facts which were hardly sufficient for any definite view followed by a petition by Sri G. Buchaiah Chowdhary who was a Minister in the Government headed by Sri N.T. Rama Rao and a comprehensive petition by Sri N.T. Rama Rao. They have invoked the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and Sri N.T. Rama Rao has, in particular, sought for a writ, order or direction more particularly a writ in the nature of mandamus for reliefs inter alia that the appointment of Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu (3rd respondent) as Chief Minister by the Governor of the State (1st respondent) is illegal and unconstitutional and that he continues to be the Chief Minister.

The man who had reached grater heights died heart-broken and in not so happy frame of mind following a heart attack on 18.1.1996 at his residence in Hyderabad aged 72.   In 2014, Google honoured him by adding new
Telegu fonts and naming them after him.

Opinions might differ – but the huge fan following he evoked and the love and affection he garnered arising out of his doing mythological roles was miles longer and very very high and perhaps he could have had a much happier and peaceful living, if he had not entered politics.  .. .. but .. ..

 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

13.8.2020.


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