Ajit Pawar - a quick, decisive move like Naidu in 1995

Last Updated 23 November 2019, 11:41 IST

There are minor differences in the way the events unfolded in present-day Maharashtra and the 1995 Nara Chandrababu Naidu coup against his father-in-law and founder of the Telugu Desam Party NT Rama Rao. The backstabbing, as it were, in both instances came from members of the family.

Ajit Pawar, the nephew of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, joined hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party to form a new government in Maharashtra. The swift move came less than 12 hours after the NCP chief approved the CM's seat to be given to Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, which was backed by the Congress.

NTR, the actor turned politician, was shunted out of office and from the party he founded a mere two weeks after he attended the release of his biography on Aug 16, 1995. The coup was scripted by his son-in-law -- the then low profile Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Naidu roped in Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, the eldest son-in-law, and all the sons of NTR, including actors Harikrishna and Balakrishna.

NTR sought help from then Governor Krishna Kant after he failed in efforts to pull his legislators back from Naidu's hold. The MLAs were all holed up in Viceroy Hotel and NTR’s pleas for them to come out were greeted with 'chappals'. NTR then requested the governor to dissolve the Assembly.

NTR quit by sending his resignation letter to the governor and the speaker from a hospital bed with his second wife Lakshmi Parvathi at his bedside.

On the floor of the House, on Sept 7 of that year, only 28 out of the 219 TDP legislators stood behind him. Speaker Yanamala Ramakrishnudu didn’t even allow NTR to speak. The speaker suspended all the MLAs loyal to NTR from the House alleging unruly behaviour. NTR, the leader of the TDP Legislative Party, was not invited for the business advisory meeting on Aug 29 at the Assembly while he was technically still the Chief Minister of the state.

While aiming to get acceptance from the people, Naidu organised a public meeting in Hyderabad on Sept 11, NTR’s whirlwind tour of the then united Andhra Pradesh failed to attract the attention of the very people that had given a massive mandate to the TDP founder. Naidu and the NTR family succeeded in branding NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi as allegedly having tricked the lonely widower into wedlock while trying to write his biography.

Senior journalist and political analyst Suresh Dharoor, who covered that crisis, recalled: “NTR, who considered himself an incarnation of God, made the announcement of marrying Lakshmi Parvathi in the TDP general body meeting in Tirupati. That irked Naidu, who was waiting in the wings to take the reins of the party from the hands of the aging NTR.”

Looking further back, NTR received his first wake-up call in the spring of 1984. Nadendla Bhaskar Rao made a move against NTR with what appeared to be the tacit aid of then Governor Thakur Ram Lal while the leader was away in America to have a heart surgery.

After Naidu's coup, NTR would never again regain his empire. He passed away in January of 1996.

(Published 23 November 2019, 06:16 IST)

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