Political entry of Hitesh Chenchuram unlikely to worry Chandrababu Naidu; Andhra CM's claim to NTR legacy remains safe

In a significant political development, the grandson of NT Rama Rao and son of Daggubati Purandeswari, Daggubati Hitesh Chenchuram is joining the YSR Congress on the eve of the Lok Sabha election.

Purandeswari was a minister in the UPA regime and is now in the BJP. The conflict between two sons-in-law of NTR — N Chandrababu Naidu and Daggubati Venkateswara Rao has a decades-long history. Daggubati's family has been shifting political loyalties in a vain bid to take on Naidu.

There has been an intense battle for inheritance of NTR's political legacy between the Nandamuri and Nara families. But, Nara Chandrababu Naidu could wrest the complete control of the party founded by the actor-turned-politician, NTR, who still enjoys an iconic image in the hearts of Telugu people across the region, and across castes and religions.

After the second marriage of NTR (to Lakshmi Parvathi), discontent began to brew in the rank and file of the TDP on the controversial role of the latter in his personal and political life. Thus, the party gravitated towards Chandrababu, who by then was playing a key role in the affairs of government and the party. Venkateswara Rao was also in the party and NTR's government, but, Naidu was holding sway. Chandrababu led the revolt against NTR and dislodged him from power to take control of the party and the government owing to the alleged excesses of Parvathi.

Political entry of Hitesh Chenchuram unlikely to worry Chandrababu Naidu; Andhra CMs claim to NTR legacy remains safe

File image of Andhra Pradesh CM Chandrababu Naidu. News18

However, she repeatedly dismissed these efforts, calling it a conspiracy of Chandrababu's to snatch political power. In this rebellion against NTR in his lifetime, his family deserted him and rallied behind Chandrababu.

Subsequently, the two sons-in-law of NTR fell out, to the advantage of Chandrababu. Subsequent to the death of NTR, Parvathi made a vain bid to challenge Chandrababu. But, her party, NTR's TDP came a cropper in the elections, thus further consolidating the son-in-law's influence in both party and among the people alike.

Parvathi later joined the YSR Congress as she thought it to be the only political platform from which to oppose Chandrababu in any credible manner.

NTR's son N Hari Krishna despite his personal proximity with the late leader and his father, could not carve out a place for himself either in the party or among the people. He opposed Chandrababu at a point in time, only to reconcile with the leadership of his brother-in-law. The party floated by him called Anna TDP could not make any impact. (NTR was fondly called as Anna by his followers). Chandrababu rewarded him with a ministerial berth and made him an MP.

But, NTR's other daughter and her husband Venkateswara Rao steadfastly opposed Chandrababu. They joined the Congress led by Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy as he successfully dethroned Chandrababu in 2004. She became a minister in the UPA regime and earned fame as an articulate parliamentarian. The Congress was the obvious platform for the Daggubati family to challenge Chandrababu as they did not find a place in the TDP. But, as a result of joining the Congress, she lost the claim to the legacy of NTR once and for all as the TDP remained under the leadership of Chandrababu.

The bifurcation of the state against the wishes of the people of Seemandhra, who now constitute the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh, decimated the Congress in the state. Sensing no political opportunity in congress, Purandeswari left the party to join BJP despite its alliance with the TDP. Venkateswara Rao more or less became inactive in politics. But, the denial of special status to Andhra Pradesh made the BJP hugely unpopular. The Daggubati family realised that they could not challenge Chandrababu by continuing in the BJP. More than challenging him, their own political future remains shaky in the BJP.

Thus, Daggubati Hitesh Chenchuram, escorted by his father, met YS Jagan. Hitesh is expected to be the YSR Congress candidate from Parchur Assembly constituency in Prakasham district in the ensuing polls.

However, Purandeswari was conspicuously absent in this episode raising questions over her political journey. In a candid reply, Venkateswara Rao clarified that his wife would not quit the BJP and would retire from politics in case her son's political pilgrimage with Jagan so demands. Thus, the promising political career of Purandeswari may come to an abrupt end if she chooses to leave politics for the political future of her son.

In fact, Purandeswari was recently made BJP's election manifesto committee chairman. She is likely relieved that both the BJP and YSR Congress are on the same side of political spectrum, the anti-Chandrababu camp. But, the TDP will find this (mother in BJP, son in YSR Congress) as an opportunity to buttress its claim that YS Jagan is acting at the behest of the BJP.

Thus, the choice of YSR Congress is inevitable for the Daggubati family as Chandrababu firmly takes control of the TDP especially after his comeback in 2014.With the death of Hari Krishna, the only resistance to Chandrababu from the NTR family came to an end. With Nara Lokesh, son of Chandrababu and a minister in his cabinet married to daughter of N Balakrishna, the younger son of NTR, the TDP chief has an additional advantage in consolidating his claim for NTR's political legacy.

With the Daggubati family failing to claim any rights over TDP, Chandrababu became unassailable. The Daggubatis' shifting political loyalties with the sole objective to be in the anti-Chandrababu camp further distanced it from NTR's legacy.

The rivals of Chandrababu, both YS Rajasekhara Reddy and his son YS Jagan Mohan Reddy always found an asset in the Daggubati family as they confronted their arch-rival head-on.

However, the induction of NTR's grandson into YSR Congress may only have symbolic value for YS Jagan as Chandrababu has passed the test for NTR's political legacy on multiple occasions in the past.

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Updated Date: Jan 28, 2019 19:31:31 IST

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