Row erupts over unveiling NTR’s statue in parliament

Hyderabad, May 6 (IANS) With the statue of former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder N.T. Rama Rao set to be unveiled in Parliament House Tuesday, a row has erupted as party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu and the late leader’s widow Lakshmi Parvathi were not invited to the ceremony.

After wrangling over the installation of the statue for 13 long years, NTR’s family members are now playing the blame game over not receiving the invitations.

TDP chief and NTR’s son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu, who claims to inherit the political legacy of the late leader, and the TDP founder’s second wife Lakhsmi Parvathi have not received the invitations for the ceremony. Both of them blame NTR’s daughter and union minister D. Purandeswari for this.

While TDP MPs Monday called on Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar to lodge their protest, Lakshmi Parvathi threatened to move the court.

However, giving a new twist to the row, Purandeswari claimed Monday that the invitations were sent to Naidu and his wife Bhuvaneswari.

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

She had always 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 not likely to attend the ceremony, though he is reported to have received the invitation. However, 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 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.

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

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, he went on to become the most popular politician in the state’s history.

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