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N T Rama Rao
N T Rama Rao

Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (Telugu: నందమూరి తారక రామా రావు) (born Nimmakuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh; 28 May 1923–18 January 1996), also known as NTR, was an actor, director, producer, and politician. He is the founder of Telugu Desam Party and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1968, recognizing his contribution to Telugu cinema. After his career in movies, Rao became a political activist and a political party leader. He is known as an advocate of Andhra Pradesh's distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from Madras State with which it was often associated

Career as an actor

NTR was a actor in the Telugu film industry. He started his career playing a police inspector in the movie Mana Desam (1949). The role was offered to him by the legendary director L V Prasad. He portrayed Lord Krishna in Maya Bazaar, Sri Krishnaarjuna Yuddham, Dana Veera Sura Karna, Lord Rama (Lava Kusa), Bheeshma (Bheeshma), Ravana (Bhookailasa), and Arjuna (Nartanasala).

Rao had no formal academic training in movie script writing. Yet he authored several screen plays for his own movies as well as for other producer's movies.

He actively campaigned for the construction of a large number of movie theaters in rural locations and was influential in designing and implementing a financial system that funded the production and distribution of movies.

Politics

 Telugu Desam Party

In 1982, NTR founded Telugu Desam Party and traveled across the state of Andhra Pradesh crisscrossing all the districts in his van dubbed Chaitanya Ratham (Chaitanyam literally means bringing to life or movement). This tour helped to mobilize people and find leaders / members for his newly founded party. His son, Hari Krishna, assisted him in his tour by being his driver and close confidante. The people's response to his campaign was enormous. People cheered him and supported him wherever he went. Congress Party, which was in Government, had panicked by the response and replaced the Chief Minister Bhavanam Venkataram with a more experienced and seasoned leader, Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy. Reddy, who was Chief Minister for just over 3 months, could not secure victory for the Congress Party in the ensuing elections in 1983 January. The newly formed Telugu Desam Party won with huge margins in all three regions of the State (Coastal Andhra, Rayala Seema, and Telengana), winning over 200 seats in the 294 seat State Assembly. Congress could muster only 56 seats. NTR himself contested elections from two constituencies, Tirupathi in Chittor District and Gudivada in Krishna district, and won both the seats.

NTR campaigned on the plank of Restoring Self Respect for Telugu People and bringing the Government in touch with the realities of the common folk. He believed the State must take care of the people that are below poverty line and everyone must have their basic necessities fulfilled. He campaigned to secure basic necessities such as home, clothes and food (popularly known as Koodu, Goodu, Gudda) for everyone. He offered to provide rice (the popular staple in AP) at 2 rupees a kilo and to provide subsidies on clothes and houses to the needy.

He went into the elections with the slogan Telugu vari Atma Gauravam, "Telugu people's self-respect."

He was also an advocate of women's rights. He worked on a bill to amend inheritance Law to provide equal rights for women to inherit ancestral property. The Amendment was enacted in 1986.

NTR was briefly removed from Office in August 1984. His finance minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, a former Congress man, was made the Chief Minister by the then Governor Ramlal. Bhaskar Rao purportedly had the support of majority MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh) which was never the case.

On Independence Day, 15 August 1984, NTR was removed from office by Ramlal. Nadendla Bhaskara Rao was appointed as Chief Minister. NTR disputed the claims by Bhaskara Rao and demonstrated his strength by bringing all the MLAs supporting him, which was a majority in the 294 member assembly, to the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office). Governor Ramlal did not relent and NTR campaigned for restoration of democracy by mobilizing the support of people and various political parties in the country including Janata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and National Conference. During the one month crisis, the MLAs supporting NTR were secured in a secret place to avoid horse-trading.

Due to mobilization of several political parties and the people and due to bad press, Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister and head of Congress Party, unwillingly removed Governor Ramlal and appointed a congress party veteran, Shankar Dayal Sharma, as governor of Andhra Pradesh to pave the way for restoring NTR. Shankar Dayal Sharma removed Bhaskara Rao from power and restored NTR as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in September 1984. NTR recommended dissolution of the Assembly and called for fresh elections in the state to ensure the people had a fresh choice to elect their representatives.

In the following month on 31 October 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated, due to an entirely unrelated reason, by her Sikh bodyguard. Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in her place. In the ensuing national elections to the Lok Sabha, the Congress party won big all over the country except in Andhra Pradesh where NTR's Telugu Desam party won big. Senior Leaders of Congress party including Brahmananda Reddy, a former Chief Minister, and Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, a former Chief Minister, lost in their constituencies of Narasarao Pet and Kurnool respectively to Telugu Desam Party. Telugu Desam became the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha.

 Second Term

The Telugu Desam Party operations were significantly computerized and a systematic local party structure was built and this resulted in the establishment of a stable second political party that survived his death. Rao introduced the concept of strong states with strong center in his discussions about state power with Gandhi and ushered in a new era of empowered local governments, within the framework of India. The long held belief that strong states imply a weak and collapsing country is no more a political dogma that governs center state relations in India. He also lobbied and won the amendment of Hindu inheritance laws to give women equal rights in inheritance.

He suffered a mild stroke and was unable to campaign in the 1989 election, which he lost.

 Third Term

N.T. Rama Rao returned to power in 1994 winning 250 seats (Telugu Desam won 216; CPI: 19; CPM: 15) for his party and his allies in a 294 seat Assembly. Congress party could win only 26 seats. BJP which contested 280 seats on its own could win only three seats. .


During the campaign for this election, NTR made three main promises to the people, besides the promise of providing a better Government: 1. Reintroduce two social welfare programs that were shelved by the Congress Government:

a) Government subsidy on Rice for low income people. Under this program, Rice was made available at Rs 2 per KG for low income people.
b) Mid-day meal scheme for school children from low income families

2. Introduce prohibition. This was aimed as a welfare scheme for women in the poor families whose husbands were spending significant portion of their earnings on liquor. 3. Provide subsidised electricity to farmers. Under this scheme, farmers need to pay just Rs 50/year for their power/electricity usage.

The mid-day meal scheme led to the single biggest drop in child labor and increased primary school enrollment.

Unlike Mr. Rao's Rs2/kg rice program, all major state subsidies before Mr. Rao's tenure such as free bachelor's degree education, free rail tickets for railway employees, free telephones for telecommunication employees, free electricity for electricity employees, free medical care for medical employees, free loans for bank employees, free housing for govt employees were targeted at the rich. His new social net programs aimed at the poorest and the most hard working of the poor were major political win for him.

Rao directed his tourism department to invest heavily into restructuring Tirupathi, Tirumala and Amaravathi into tourist destinations and into spiritual capitals of Andhra.

 Second crisis and breakup of the TDP

In 1995, his son-in-law, Nara Chandrababu Naidu split Telugu Desam party on the pretext that NTR is ignoring the interests of loyal party workers and giving more importance to a small coterie headed by NTR's second wife Lakshmi Parvati. Naidu, who was a Cabinet Minister in NTR's Government, was incensed with the growing influence of Lakshmi Parvati and her purported interference in the Party and the Government.

Naidu convinced most of the Telugu Desam Party's legislators to elect him as their leader, making him the chief minister.

 Personal life

NTR married Basavatarakam in 1942. She died of cancer in 1985. There is a Cancer Hospital established in her memory in Hyderabad. NTR got remarried in 1993 at the age of 70. His second wife Lakshmi Parvati started off as his biographer and later developed a relationship. NTR had seven sons and four daughters from his first marriage. Prominent among his children are Bhuvaneswari, wife of Nara Chandrababu Naidu and the chairperson of Heritage Foods; and Daggubati Purandeswari, MP and a Minister of State for Human Resources in Manmohan Singh's cabinet; Nandamuri Balakrishna a leading actor in the Telugu film industry; and Nandamuri Harikrishna, an actor turned politician and a member of Rajya Sabha (upper house of India's Parliament). Prominent among NTR's grandchildren are N. Kalyan Ram, N. T. Rama Rao Jr. and Taraka Ratna. (all three are actors in Telugu Cinema).

N.T. Rama Rao died on 18 January 1996 of a heart attack..Recently in 2007, CNN IBN,a popular television channel made a survey "who is the most popular person of Andhra Pradesh?". 73% of the people answered NTR

Controversies

During 1993, there was immense criticism on him from his own party MLAs that he was giving undue importance to Lakshmi Parvathi. This criticism along with rumours that he has an illegitimate relationship with her, forced him to announce that he would marry Lakshmi Parvathi.After he came to power 1994, several party MLAs were upset with her interference in party matters. This lead to a revolt against him which was lead by his own son-in-law Nara Chandrababu Naidu and Duggupati venkateswara rao. It is also rumored that Nara Chandrababu Naidu has forced majority of the MLAs to take back their support towards N.T.R.

List of Films

» Nagarjuna Akkineni » N T Rama Rao » Narasimha Raju » Nithin
» Nagabhushanam » Nagendra Babu » Naveen Vadde » Navdeep
» Nalla Ramamurthy » Narayana Rao » Nassar » Narra Venkateswara Rao
» Nutan Prasad » Nikhil » Nagesh » Nani
» Naga Chaitanya » Naresh
 
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