Chandrababu Naidu receives invitation for NTR statue unveiling

Hyderabad, May 6 (IANS) Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu Monday received an invitation for the ceremony to unveil party founder N.T. Rama Rao’s statue in Parliament House Tuesday.

However, the late leader’s widow Lakshmi Parvathi was ignored, triggering a row.

Naidu received the invitation hours after a delegation of TDP MPs met Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar to lodge a protest that their leader was not being invited to the ceremony.

Later, NTR’s daughter and union minister D. Purandeswari also told reporters in Delhi that invitations were sent to Naidu and his wife Bhuvaneswari.

TDP MP N. Nageswara Rao said Naidu, who received the invitation from the office of the speaker, would be attending the ceremony. He said though Purandeswari and the Congress were playing politics over the issue, Naidu decided to attend the ceremony as it was aimed at honouring their party founder.

Earlier, Naidu, who claims to inherit the political legacy of the late leader, and the TDP founder’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi, complained that they had not received invitations to the ceremony. Both of them blamed Purandeswari.

NTR’s family has been wrangling over the installation of the statue for 13 long years.

Purandeswari, who joined the Congress party in 2004, now serves as minister of state at the centre for the second term. She donated the nine-foot-three-inch tall bronze statue, which weighs 900 kg.

She had earlier too targeted Naidu for not sponsoring the statue despite the decision by the parliamentary committee on statues and portraits to install NTR’s statue way back in 2000. Naidu was then chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

The allegations have triggered a war of words between them on many occasions.

NTR’s son and film actor N. Balakrishna hit back at his sister and defended Naidu, who blamed his successor Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy for not donating the statue.

Balakrishna, whose daughter is married to Naidu’s son, is also likely to attend the ceremony. NTR’s elder son N. Harikrishna and grandson and popular actor Junior NTR are flying to Delhi to be present during the ceremony.

Harikrisha, a member of the Rajya Sabha, is keen to see Junior NTR inherit the political legacy of NTR. He is reportedly unhappy with Naidu over his attempts to groom his son N. Lokesh as his successor.

Lakshmi Parvathi has threatened to move court over the issue. “If the speaker doesn’t invite the wife of the leader whose statue is being installed, she is unfit to hold the key post,” NTR’s widow said, also blaming Purandeswari for not being invited.

NTR had married Parvathi, his biographer, just before the 1994 elections, which saw TDP returning to power in the state. However, her growing interference in party affairs and administration led to Naidu staging a revolt in August 1995. He became chief minister with the support of Harikrishna and other family members.

After NTR’s death in January 1996, Parvathi went into political oblivion. Purandeswari, her husband D. Venkateshwara Rao and some other family members targeted Naidu on many occasions for what they call “backstabbing” NTR.

A popular actor, NTR had floated the TDP in 1982 on the slogan of “Telugu self-respect”. Creating a record of sorts, he came to power within nine months of the formation of the TDP, ending the monopoly of the Congress party in state politics.

With pro-poor schemes like the Rs.2-per-kg rice and total prohibition, NTR went on to become the most popular politician in the state’s history.

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