Hyderabad: It is the 97th birth anniversary of legendary NTR on Thursday. The TDP, founded by the God of the silver screen, is celebrating its ‘Mahanadu’ in keeping with the changing times and under lockdown conditions.

For those who would recall the phenomenon called NTR, today remains a memorable day by any yardstick. Only a few would be born to attain such popularity – both as an actor and as a politician. NTR was among the rarest of the rare who excelled in both the rules by becoming the darling of the masses.

The Congress was the premiere political party which ruled the country in those days and more so Andhra Pradesh uninterruptedly for nearly three decades. Even when the Congress lost the power in 1977 under Janata wave, AP remained loyal to the Congress. NTR unseated the Congress in 1983 sweeping the elections and again stood up to the Rajiv Wave in 1984 national elections and in the 1985 Assembly elections. One could attribute any number of political and structural changes which affected the politics in AP in those days, but NTR’s personality stood out in enforcing the directional change. The only bifurcation of the State led to the decline of the party partly and that too geographically.

NTR was not just a domineering film personality whose stature very few could attain ever, but also rose to stardom in politics to give a new direction to the rank and file of the Opposition by designing a strong Third Front reinforcing the federal structure in politics. Perhaps, no one else was capable of knitting the myriad ideological leaders into a coalition as NTR had done. In these days of competitive identity politics devoid of any direction, one could only wish NTR is our contemporary.

NTR would always be remembered for the political place he gave to the backward classes and for putting an end to the domination of certain social groups in politics. In fact, Telugu got its due recognition across the globe because of him. Initially, or for that matter till the very end, the bureaucracy was at loggerheads with him. NTR had a distinct style of functioning which was not only whimsical but also emotional.

One of his greatest qualities was he accepted that he was not well versed with issues like power sector and hence appointed experts like Narla Tata Rao to bring in power reforms. Unlike the present times when governments across the country have become over sensitive to criticism and are resorting to booking of cases, NTR had the magnanimity to accept criticism. Though he was dubbed as being feudal in his functioning, by all means and larger public good is said to have dominated his mood. Controversies were not new to him and one could also blame him for caste violence.

But, then if we look back at it, the significance of the same seems so little compared to the present day politics which are caste ridden to the core in AP politics. One could keep talking about subsidised rice scheme of NTR forever which is a precursor to the welfare politics of nowadays, one could say.

He dealt a crippling blow to the corrupt practices of the ‘Patel-Patwari’ system too. Tamil Nadu would forever be thankful to him for his Telugu Ganga project aimed at providing drinking water to Chennai city. He would forever remain as an all-time favourite of the Telugus, be it in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh both in terms of being a legendary film actor and as a politician who created history.

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