Chandrababu Naidu: ‘CEO’ CM who superseded his famous father-in-law

Yesterday PM Narendra Modi at a rally said that N. Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP president, and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, had betrayed TDP founder N.T. Rama Rao by joining hands with the Congress.

Around four decades ago, when Naidu was the cinematography minister in the Congress government in Andhra Pradesh, he came close to NandamuriTaraka Rama Rao, film actor and politician, commonly known as NTR. He had become a mass icon by playing roles of Hindu deities, joined politics and launched TDP to wipe out the Congress in the state.

Naidu married NTR’s daughter Bhuvaneswari in 1981 and two years later joined TDP after it came to power. He became the backroom boy and a close confidant of his chief minister father-in-law.

Just a 10 years after joining TDP, Naidu staged a coup against his father-in-law, wrested control of TDP and became the chief minister.

After Naidu’s revolt, NTR had stated his son-in-law’s days of pre-eminence were numbered and he would seek his revenge. In his last interview, NTR compared himself to Shah Jehan, a 17th-century Mogul emperor who was imprisoned by his son, and predicted that he would gain his revenge against what he called “the backstabbers” in his family, especially his son-in-law and successor as chief minister, Naidu.

However, NTR did not recover from the political setback and died of a heart attack a year later in 1996. And Naidu went on to become a major leader in the state and thrice the chief minister. As CM, a tech-friendly Naidu styled himself as the ‘CEO’ of the state and tuned Hyderabad into an IT hub attracting major multinational tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle.

Naidu justified his revolt against NTR as an effort to save the party from his father-in-law who had come under “evil” influence. Naidu stated a “dushta shakti” (referring to NTR’s second wife, Lakshmi Parvati) tried to destroy the party and to protect the party from the “evil force,” he had to revolt and split the party. “I never thought even in my dreams that I will revolt against NTR. For me, NTR was not just a father-in-law, but a god whom I worshiped. But he was facing problems having come under the influence of the `evil force’ and hence we were left with no other option to save the TDP,” he stated

Naidu may have ousted his famous father-in-law out of power, but he cannot afford to let go of his legacy because NTR still remains a big icon in the state. Last month Naidu unveiled a towering statue of NTR in the middle of a massive water pond in Guntur district.

Forty years after he became a Congress MLA, with a big intervening period when he was a fierce Congress opponent, Naidu is back in support of Congress after breaking TDP ties with the NDA in March last year demanding special status to Andhra Pradesh. But another reason could be the BJP’s proximity with Naidu’s rival YSR Congress led by Jaganmohan Reddy, the son of deceased Congress leader and former chief minister YSR Reddy.

Naidu is in Delhi today sitting on a dharna demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh. He is hogging the limelight with several opposition party leaders including Congress president Rahul Gandhi by his side. Naidu may have realized before that revolt against Modi was his best chance to make a grab at power in the Centre.


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