N.T. Rama Rao – FOUNDER
Popularly known as N.T. Rama Rao a.ka. NTR, Pedala Pennidhi by his fans, or Anna garu by his party workers excelled in all arenas of public life as an actor, director, producer, and politician. A man who devoted his life for his people is still worshiped by all for his stellar performance in mythological roles besides unique contributions to Indian politics.
Padmashri. Dr. NTR who found the Telugu Desam Party and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for over seven years was born in Nimmakuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh on 28 May 1923. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Andhra-Christian College of Guntur .The Nata Sarvabhouma (Emperor of Acting) in Telugu is identified for his portrayal of mythological characters of Lord Krishna & Lord Rama is worshipped as incarnation of God by many.
His roles as an elderly teacher (Badi Pantulu) to his pupils, a prince and pauper (Raju-Peda), a down to earth house servant who was dedicated to his master (Aatma Bhanduvu), helped him earn the good samaritan title and establish him as a model campaigner against corruption in public life and also as a people’s chief minister.
His role as a chief minister was influenced by queries by his fans as to what was his contribution to society in general. He felt speechless, whenever people asked him “Ayya, memu mimmalni devudu laga adarinchamu, kani meeru maku emi chesaru?” (We have treated you like a God but what have you done for us?) He was so much moved by such queries that after pondering it over several days he decided to form a political party to serve the people and strive for their all round upliftment.
He formed TDP on March 21st, 1982 and steered it on the slogan of “Telugu Atma Gauravam” (self-pride) to a resounding victory in the immediate election and in a most dramatic manner within nine months of its formation by December end. Similarly the massive public meeting at Nizam College grounds on April 11,1982 attended by huge crowds that spilled over to road all around reflected the mood of the people and popular support to NTR’s crusade against corrupt congress.
NTR won the love and affection of people with his charisma, support of bureaucrats and dedication and ruled as a chief minister. He introduced the Rs. Two per kg rice scheme, abolition of village secretaries ( patwaris ), introduction of Mandal system in an effort to end corruption in administration from grass root level.
NTR returned to power within a month after a coup by congress backed by finance minister Nadendla Bhaskar Rao and was foiled through his democratic struggle which rocked the entire nation and also shook the foundations of the corrupt congress purportedly then led by the Indira Gandhi- Rajiv Gandhi duo in the country.
After he regained power, NTR introduced more people friendly measures under the able advisory of Sri Nara Chandrababu Naidu who succeeded in bringing about a sea change in state administration. Besides abolishing the AP Legislative Council, as it was a non-performing body, NTR’s other contributions included the educational reforms, regulation of vigilance, and introduction of common entrance exams for all professional courses to recognize merit.
NTR was a man of great oratory skills which swayed public emotionally against the congress. Several north Indian politicians speak high of his Hindi lecture at Harayana where he spoke for forty-five minutes in a packed stadium which he later confessed that he had memorized the entire speech phonetically, astounding even the strong man of Haryana, Devilal.
Another major contribution of NTR to the country besides the campaign against corrupt congress, was his drive to bring all the non-congress opposition together on a single platform and promote the second non-congress government at the centre – National Front by roping in parties like Janata Dal , Bharateeya Janata party, CPI and CPM on a platform as an alternative to Congress.
In the period between 1989 to 1995, NTR promoted the party as a bulwark of women empowerment and the first file he signed when he took oath at the Lalbahadur stadium was to enforce total prohibition in the state. Till he breathed his last, NTR remained as the much respected political doyen who strived for the upliftment of the down trodden and also an un-matched and spot less personality in Indian political space .