Naidu, NTR’s daughter in war of words


Hyderabad : A war of words has broken out between family members of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N.T. Rama Rao, with his daughter and union minister of state D. Purandareswari attacking his son-in-law and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president N. Chandrababu Naidu for trying to get closer to the family in order to return to power.

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Naidu is making frantic efforts to befriend the family members of the TDP founder, especially his film actor sons and grandsons, and make use of their charisma to take on both the ruling Congress party and superstar Chiranjeevi, who is planning to launch a new political party in two months.

However, Naidu’s attempts to woo back the NTR clan evoked sharp reaction from D. Purandareswari, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, who reminded her brothers that it was Naidu who “backstabbed” their father to usurp power in 1995.

She lashed out at Naidu on Sunday and alleged that humiliation meted out by Naidu led to the “tragic” death of the TDP founder.

Naidu’s supporters hit back Monday, asking how she could talk about NTR while being in the party against which her father had fought.

Naidu had led a revolt against his father-in-law who was then the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh to come to power. NTR, a popular film actor who founded TDP in early 1980s to end the Congress party’s domination in the state politics, died in January 1996.

Naidu remained chief minister till 2004 when he lost power to the Congress party. He has been trying to come closer to NTR’s family members. Last year, he brought back NTR’s son Harikrishna into the party and recently made him Rajya Sabha member. Harikrishna, a film actor, had sided with Naidu in 1995 and served as a minister, but later fell out with him.

Naidu last year married his son to the daughter of Balakrishna, another son of NTR and a popular film actor.

Facing a tough battle in view of Chiranjeevi’s plans to launch his own political party, Naidu Saturday held a crucial meeting with Harikrishna, Balakrishna and their sons NTR Junior, Kalyanram and Taraka Rata – all actors.

The meeting comes ahead of Naidu’s 150 day-long state-wide ‘yatra’ scheduled to begin at Tirupati April 20. The TDP chief has tried to rope in the stars for his rally, which is aimed at exposing the “misrule” of the Congress.

According to TDP sources, Naidu is banking on Balakrishna, who is quite popular in coastal Andhra, and NTR Junior, a young actor with huge fan following, especially among the youth.

“Naidu is a jackal of all seasons. He is a master in using people when he needs them and dumping them when he escapes the danger,” said Purandareswari, who along with her husband D. Venkateshwara Rao joined the Congress before the 2004 elections.

Purandareswari made it clear that she would not support Naidu even if all other family members decide to back him. “My father would have survived for at least 10 more years had it not been for the backstabbing by Mr Naidu,” she said.

Reacting sharply to her remarks, Naidu’s supporters reminded her of the role she and her husband played in 1995. “Where were you at that time?” asked TDP leader Butchaiah Chowdary.

Venkateswara Rao had sided with his co-brother but returned to NTR’s group before the TDP founder’s death. Purandareswari was elected member of parliament on Congress ticket in 2004 while her husband was elected to the state assembly.