Hyderabad: Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on many an occasion looks enigmatic to his rivals. KCR as Chandrasekhar Rao is popularly known is apt at delivering master strokes to his opponents with his acumen, wit and typical home-made Hyderabadi idiom.
The latest of the sorts from his repertoire being a lesson on the life of N.T. Rama Rao, founder of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and movie mogul, introduced for the Class-X students of Telangana schools in the revised syllabus in Social Studies for the current academic year. The lesson focuses on how NTR as a film star rose to become the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh by establishing the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) on the plank of Telugu-pride in 1982. It also focuses on the pro-poor welfare schemes of NTR such as Rs 2kg rice scheme and total prohibition.
The KCR’s measure received instant reactions from the most unexpected quarter—the TDP. NTR’s son and TDP lawmaker from Andhra Pradesh Nandamuri Balakrishna and party politburo member Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy profusely thanked KCR for his “laudable action”. NTR gave KCR an envious political life as the latter was with the thespian right from the beginning of his party. Chandrasekhar Rao had a meteoric rise during his long association with the party. KCR continued to be a four-time MLA from Gajwel in succession on the TDP ticket from 1985 to 1999. His admiration for NTR is so well-known that he named his son after him (K.T. Rama Rao, presently IT and Urban Development Minister in the TRS government).
But Chandrasekhar Rao parted ways with Chandrababu Naidu, successor of NTR, since he felt sidelined in the party. Projecting the TDP as an Andhra-based outsider-party responsible for the fate of his backward Telangana region, KCR floated the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) in 2001 and launched a statehood movement. After achieving statehood and his party came to power in 2014, KCR gobbled up his one-time parent outfit with his cannibalistic politics of defections.
Capitalising on NTR’s popularity
The TDP, which exited from Telangana’s political landscape after the state bifurcation, is unlikely to claim the legacy left behind by NTR. Telangana folks, particularly those from the Backward Classes, still fondly remember NTR for his bold measure to scrap Patwari and Patel system which is blamed for fudging of land records and the resultant unrest in the peasantry. The poor people adore him for the Rs 2 a kg rice scheme. Even after NTR died more than two decades ago he had still a massive fan following. Besides, Telangana has a sizeable number of settler populations with Andhra origin. KCR is understood to be keen to floor these sections by giving NTR a due space in the academics ahead of the elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), mostly inhabited by the Andhra settlers.
Glorification of Nizam
Earlier, the KCR government during its first term was accused of having incorporated lessons in the school text books on the Nizam of Hyderabad, glorifying his rule. The government’s alleged soft corner for the Nizam drew the flak from the Hindu fundamentalists who said KCR was at his best to paint a rosy picture around the Nizam’s rule in a bid to appease the predominant Muslim community on his home turf. His perceived showering praises on Nizam even did not go well with the Left parties. K. Nageswar, who went to the first State Legislative Council as a combined candidate of the Left-dominated Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) from a teachers’ constituency, expressed his resentment over the KCR’s alleged pro-Nizam’s rule. Nageswar expressed anguish that the lessons on Nizam played down the oppressive rule of the Nizam of Hyderabad State, the bloody armed conflict in which over 4,000 people laid down their lives, and the excess of Razakars and Patels and the slavery perpetrated by the feudal rule.