The succession war between the families of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder N.T. Rama Rao, or NTR, and his son-in-law and party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu came out in the open on Saturday at the annual conclave of the party here.
Angry over Naidu’s attempts to project his son N. Lokesh as his successor, N.T. Rama Rao’s son Nandamuri Harikrishna refused to address the conclave and left the venue in a huff.
Harikrishna’s son and popular actor junior NTR, who had campaigned for the TDP in 2009 elections, also stayed away from ‘Mahanadu’ despite his presence in Hyderabad, triggering speculations of serious differences between the two families.
Harikrishna, the party politburo member who wants his son to take over the reins of the party, was seen having a heated argument with senior party leader Y. Ramakrishnudu.
The actor and filmmaker angrily gesticulated and rejected Ramakrishnudu’s request to address the conclave.
The former minister, who was seated on the dais at the inaugural session Friday, remained off the dais Saturday and later left the venue.
The reason for the immediate provocation was the manner in which Naidu is trying to project his son Lokesh.
He was believed to be unhappy over pictures of Lokesh dominating the venue.
A large number of flexiboards carrying pictures of Lokesh and his cut-outs were displayed all along the route to the venue at Gandipet on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The party ignored junior NTR, who like his grandfather has a huge fan following.
Harikrishna, who is also a member of Rajya Sabha, also did not like the way the pictures of Chandrababu Naidu were displayed at the photo exhibition.
He felt his late father was being ignored at the exhibition organised as part of every ‘Mahanadu’.
The differences between the two families came out in the open on the 88th birth anniversary of NTR, the legendary actor who floated TDP in 1982.
In another indication of the growing chasm, Harikrishna separately paid tributes to NTR at NTR Ghat on his birth anniversary. His son Junior NTR was also present.
The bickering come close on the heels of a resolution passed by TDP’s unit in Chandragiri in Naidu’s home district of Chittoor, urging the leadership to name Lokesh as the party incharge for the assembly constituency.
Harikrishna had recently created a flutter by stating in his open letter to people that he would launch a movement against corruption.
He remarked that those who did not even have a small piece of land earned thousands of crores of rupees after joining politics. This was being seen as an indirect attack on Naidu.
However, Harikrishna’s younger brother and actor Balakrishna was present at ‘Mahanadu’ Saturday. He also showered praise on Naidu. Naidu’s son Lokesh is the son-in-law of Balakrishna.
Harikrishna, the eldest son of NTR, had backed Naidu in his revolt against his father in 1994.
Naidu made him a cabinet minister but following the differences he distanced himself from the party. He returned to the party-fold before the 2009 elections.
Unhappy with the growing interference of NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in party and government affairs, Naidu had dethroned NTR in August 1995.
The TDP founder, who called his son-in-law a ‘back stabber’, died of cardiac arrest in January 1996.
Though NTR’s sons remained with Naidu, his daughter D. Purandareswari and her husband D. Venkateswara Rao surprised all by joining the Congress party before the 2004 elections.
Purandareswari has been a junior minister at the centre since 2004 while her husband is a state legislator.
The couple had been targeting Naidu for ‘back stabbing’ NTR.(IANS)