Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


NTR, the Beloved and the Inimitable



NTR, the Beloved and the Inimitable

Dr T H Chowdary*

Sri Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao garu was a phenomenon in political life,  as much as on the   silver screen.  He would remain  as a legend in the  reverential memories of Telugu people for generations to come . My interactions with him were mostly in my capacity as General Manager of Telecoms  (1978-83) in undivided  AP , as Dy Director General  (DDG) of  the Department of Telecoms  (1983-87) and as Chairman and  Managing Director (CMD) of  Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL) (1987-89) and thereafter  briefly as Chairman of A.P Electronics  Development Corporation ( APEDC), I will recall a few  of my interactions  with and about him  .


2. The first narration about him  is  regarding  his mammoth meeting in Tirupati launching the Telugu Desam Party (TDP).   Indira Gandhi addressed one meeting  on or about the same  date as NTR in Tirupati. I had to report about  what I  have seen and heard  at these two events to my then Minister, the late Sri N Vittal Rao Gadgil.  I described to him the great histrionic and oratorical  speech with literary flourishes which moved the mammoth audience  into  identification with the great actor, orator , politician NTR .  In contrast, Indira’s meeting and address were non-descript.  I mentioned to my minister to his great surprise, that the Congress would be routed, Indira would be  humbled and  NTR and his party would  come triumphant. 


3. During NTR’s first stint as Chief Minister,  he decided to take over  some private engineering colleges. I telephoned him and pleaded with him that would be a  great mistake as  dozens of engineering colleges are required and   private  entrepreneurs  should be encouraged  not only to run the   existing ones but to  start many more.  I am glad that I  was able to convince him.  He   desisted from taking over  a well performing  engineering college in Vijayawada .


4. NTR wanted to have a multistoreyed parking  building  for motor cars in the Abids  center of Hyderabad .   My Telecom office building was there just opposite  the great GPO and the CTO. As GM Telecoms  I said that  I will  make over my site provided the AP government  gave me  1.25 times the area I would  surrender  and that should be on  the L.N Gupta Marg which  connects  the Abids   center to  Nampally Hyderabad Railway Station .  In a weeks’ time, the letters were exchanged and  the site where the present office of the GM of  Telecom Telangana state is located was  DOT’s. I did not seek  permission from the  Telecom Directorate in Delhi.  I did not put the government to loss and I was not personally benefitted and the  public cause was served.


5. My report about the  Tirupati   meeting of NTR and this very swift  exchange of the sites  made the  Ministry think that I was an NTR’s man. Soon thereafter, I was shifted as Dy Director General to Delhi .


6. In 1987  NTR wanted that I should quit the DOT and come to AP as Chairman of the  AP Electronics Development Corporation (APEDC) . I was just then  selected as the Chairman and Managing Director of the newly created corporation of India’s Overseas Communications as Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL).  NTR  called me to come to Hyderabad . He asked me to quit my VSNL position and  take up the APEDC Chairmanship. “I told him that  it was a  tribute to NTR that  I who was considered as your man, has been chosen  by Rajiv Gandhi to the prestigious post of  CMD, VSNL.  He is your  rival  whose Congress you humbled”.  He smiled and  said, “now, you promise me that  as soon as you retire, you will come and take up the  Chairmanship of APEDC”.   He called his Secretary,  the late Dr P.L. Sanjeeva Reddy and asked him to take my date of retirement and directed him to contact me  on that date and  give the  charge  of the Chairmanship of the  APEDC.  Dr. Sanjeeva Reddy did contact me on the date of  my retirement  and within the next  3 days, I  was in Hyderabad as Chairman  of the APEDC.  It was a short- lived position for me because soon, there were elections  and the TDP was trounced by Congress led by the  late Dr M.Chenna Reddy .   During  my brief Chairmanship  of the APEDC,  I could get  a licence from GOI for one of the entrepreneurs  picked by NTR to manufacture  rural electronic telephone exchanges designed   by C-DOT .


7.  Another occasion I recall is  release of a commemorative postal stamp in honour of the late Kaviraju Tripuraneni Ramaswami Chowdary  a great  social  reformer,  rationalist and  polemicist poet.  I could get  the postal department to bring out the stamp and have it released by the great NTR  in Delhi  in May 1987. However, I could not be present at that event as I was then in the USSR on an official  mission to that great country  . My wife  and Sri Ramaswamy Chowdary  garu’s   daughter,  Chowdarani were specially invited to that event  whereat both NTR and the  President, Sardar Jail Singh  graced the   occasion.  Sri NTR spoke eloquently on the  social reforms and the   rationalist thought that Rama Swami Chowdary  garu launched in Andhra area through his  several  literary works  and speeches.


8. The next interaction I had with the   great  NTR  was on the 15 of Aug  1995  in the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad at  the reception given by the  Governor  on Independence Day.  When I greeted  Sri  NTR ,  he asked Smt Lakshmi Parvati to stand up and  say namaskar to me . She did so. When NTR asked me  why I was not  seeing him for the last   several years,  I told him  with great unease that “ whenever I thought of him,  I was remembering  Dasaradha”.  The message went to  the very well-learned NTR. He exclaimed   and said:  avunaa ..entha pedda mata annaru…….”.  Then he turned to his Personal Secretary, Dr. Jayaprakash  and instructed him to get me to him the next day.  I told  him that I was going to  Jabalpur and on return may be I would see him. When after    4 days I returned, by that time the tragedy took place.  Sri N Chandra Babu Naidu  dethroned  NTR. From the  airport I straight  went to the  Viceroy Hotel where  Sri Chandra Babu Naidu   fixed up his office.  I greeted him by reciting the poem,


“Alludaa rammani adarammuna bilvabampu maamanu batti champagalame…”


the  words of   Arjuna, insinuating against  Krishna in the play Gayopakhyanam. I added that what he did was right for it  was meant to save AP from the rule of a clever but undeserving lady.


9. I felt very sorry for the  tragedy  that struck this giant   Sri NTR  because of the  entry  into  his household  of a  person who was seen to be scheming   to become the real influence over NTR  to the detriment of the TDP and the  state.


10. Nothing can detract from the  name and fame of so  talented a person  like NTR  who inflicted so humiliating a defeat on Indira  Gandhi and  her Congress party within  a few months of  forming the great  Telugu  Desam Party (TDP).


11.  People  wonder why so illustrious a person is  still not honoured with India’s highest award, Bharat Ratna.  (1,212 words)