Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh) : Andhra Pradesh's main opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) Sunday began silver jubilee 'Mahanadu' (convention) in this temple town with party president N. Chandrababu Naidu announcing his plans to include young leaders in the party.
Delivering his inaugural address at the three-day meet, which coincides with party founder N.T. Rama Rao's 84th birth anniversary, Naidu hinted that the party leaders who are 70 years old would not be fielded as candidates in the next assembly elections in 2009.
"The party leaders who were 45 when the party was formed, have now reached 70 years of age and it is time we give youth a chance," said former chief minister Naidu, who plans to give 40 percent of the party tickets to youth in the next elections.
Addressing about 10,000 party delegates from all over the state, Naidu said youth, who constitute 56 percent of the country's population, were the biggest asset and called for using their talent.
Naidu, who pursued economic reforms during his nearly decade-long rule (1995-2004), also called for evolving an alternate economic agenda to ensure that the benefits of reforms reach poor.
"Poor are becoming poorer while rich are becoming richer. The benefits of economic reforms are not reaching the poor for the last three years," he said.
The TDP president lashed out at the Congress government in the state saying it was neck-deep in corruption. "Corruption and land grabbing is rampant under the Congress rule."
He alleged that both the state and central governments were doing real estate business in the name of Special Economic Zones and snatching the land of poor farmers. "The Congress party is making money through all means to use it in the next elections and retain power," Naidu said, urging party cadres to foil the plans of the government.
He alleged that the Congress party was launching two newspapers and television channels for its propaganda as it had failed to muzzle the voice of the media. "They should clarify how they mobilized Rs.6 billion for newspapers and TV channels," he asked.
The party, which turned 25 on March 29 this year, will debate political, economic and foreign policy issues during the convention.
Naidu, who demanded classical language status to Telugu, paid rich tributes to actor-turned-politician N.T. Rama Rao, also his father-in-law, who founded the TDP in 1982 for the self-respect of Telugu people.
A special documentary on his life and achievements was screened.
It may be recalled that Naidu had led a revolt against then chief minister N.T. Rama Rao in August 1995. The TDP founder died five months later.