Lakshmi Parvathi (hereafter ‘LP’) is well known as the widow of NTR (Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao). NTR was a successful Tollywood lead actor in his prominent first innings of life and the second innings of his life turned attention towards ‘politics’. His political entry and subsequent success were a record in the Indian political discourse on certain parameters. He was successful in ousting the Indian National Congress (INC) in Andhra Pradesh (AP) on behalf of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Surprisingly, within 8-9 months after the establishment of TDP, it was able to capture political power at AP range. And, NTR assumed the role of Chief Minister of AP. Thus, for the first time, a sensational political record was carved by NTR through TDP. Before NTR and TDP; the INC was able to rule AP successfully as a ‘single dominant political player’.
TDP and NTR had thrown a challenge to the ‘INC model of politics’. The ‘INC model of politics’ can be recognized by a few features, like;
01. Extension of patronage to a predominant community/caste at regional level and sustaining political base at the regional level and national level;
02. Co-option of various communities and sections;
03. Extension of Chief Ministerial position at the regional level to a powerful community;
Veteran Indian Political Scientist Rajani Kothari was the first person to coin and figure-out ‘INC model of politics’. Since then, Political Scientists acknowledged the significance of this usage in various modes of analytical discourses.
The INC model of politics also started to witness challenges from powerful land-owning communities since the end of 1960’s. Since the end of 1960’s a few agriculturally prosperous communities, especially in the North Indian zone started to capture political power by successfully launching regional political parties. The success of TDP under NTR and Kamma community’s enthusiastic patronage can also be understood in this direction only. The Kamma community tried its chances of capturing political power under the Communist Party of India (CPI), but failed in its attempts for a few decades. The subsequent success of TDP and NTR fulfilled the ambitions of the Kamma community in the political realm.
NTR developed a relationship with LP during his late age. LP was roughly 38 years of age when she became the second wife of NTR, and NTR was approximately 70 years old by then. The prime reasons behind NTR’s decision to (re)marry LP, hopefully, were due to;
a) his loneliness after first wife’s death
b) his children also got well settled, and they were leading their respective family lives, independently; so, there was no one to look after him at a crucial old age, when he was in desperate need of life’s companion; and
c) he was also alone without having full-fledged participation in politics for a specified duration; during this phase, he developed this relationship with LP, which ultimately led to remarriage.
This third view of opinion was primarily expressed by a senior political journalist in AP, i.e., Inuganti Venkata Rao, in one of his Interviews to a popular online web-source. This interview can be found over;
Senior Editor Inuganti Venkat Rao Exclusive Interview || Talking Politics With iDream Media
Apart from this Interview of senior political journalist Inuganti Venkat Rao, there also exists a broad range of other interviews from various persons at different points of time; who expressed and justified NTR’s remarriage with LP from the above first two points of views of expressions (i.e., a & b). For instance, one of the TDP’s prominent leaders and Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA), on a few occasions, Mr. Devineni Rajashekar (Nehru) expressed his view of opinion about NTR’s remarriage with LP from first and second versions of ideas. Devineni Nehru expressed this view in one of his big interviews to journalist Vemuri Radha Krishna on a popular television show called ‘Open Heart with RK.’ In this sequence, Devineni Nehru also recollected his association with TDP, NTR, LP, etc. in another interview;
MSR Hot Seat with Ex MLA Devineni Nehru Part 1 || No.1 News
MSR Hot Seat with Ex MLA Devineni Nehru Part 2 || No.1 News
In this version of Devineni Nehru’s Interview, he recollected and shared his association with LP and about his view of LP’s leadership aspirations, etc. In-fact, Devineni Nehru worked under LP for a brief while, as a politician and MLA.
Thus, all this indicates that NTR had his reasons to choose LP as his second wife at a crucial time of his life.
Now, coming to other perceptions and dimensions on how this remarriage of NTR and LP was perceived by various sections of society, TDP, NTR family members, etc.
First and foremost, the second remarriage of NTR with LP became a sensational news for some while. And, on the AP political scene LP became a center of attraction. There were wide range of comments, satires, opinions, etc. expressed from various vantage points across the political and social circles. But, the negative intensity over the years and days got hiked against the LP, primarily. The prime reason towards this end emanated from NTR’s family members like his sons and daughters families, etc. The focal center of attraction of NTR family in politics revolved in the form of his two son-in-laws, they were; Daggubati Venkateswara Rao & Nara Chandrababu Naidu. These two son-in-laws of NTR led their respective party groups and competitive politics. Since NTR’s remarriage with LP, which was disliked by almost all his family members; the role and actions of these two son-in-law’s became crucial and suspicious.
Thus, in a certain sense, it can be understood that the activities of NTR family members to some extent brought light to LP in the mainstream media, society, and party. It was observed and felt, that the two son-in-law’s of NTR played crucial roles in ousting him from Chief Ministerial position by showing LP as the prime reason behind such decision and action in the August, 1995 political coup!!
In this particular scenario, two questions might attempt to search reasonable answers; they include the following:
01. Why LP became a critical contestation point of negative attraction to the TDP leaders and caders?
02. How and why NTR son-in-laws led such a massive discontent and ousted NTR & made TDP aloof to him?
These two questions are very focused in dealing with various individuals political history under TDP. But, at present, our prime focal attention concentrates only upon LP, if required vis-a-vis other political leaders, like one’s from the NTR family.
The personal, professional, social and family background of LP was projected, seen and perceived in negative mode by various sections of society. In this sequence, a full range of negative news about LP primarily; and NTR, in general, got propagated.
A few aspects of such propagated, promoted and perceived news and opinions are as follows;
01. LP and NTR entered into an unholy martial relationship, though the former’s husband was still alive;
02. LP systematically trapped NTR; as a result, the later was under evil capture of the former;
03. The ultimate aim, goal, and target of LP would be to shift NTR & TDP under her leadership, systematically. Such suspected quality of LP could be a terrible quality of a evil spirited woman (against cherishable noble and humble qualities of women, like being subservient to the husband, etc). But, NTR was not able to realize facts correctly and was under an illusion of LP.
04. Since NTR was aging and developing health complications; the next heir to TDP would be certainly LP; this would be a significant setback to the prospects of TDP’s future, leader’s political ambitions and cader’s enthusiasm.
On the whole, the character assassination of LP went on a massive scale. Same time, there was a certain amount of confusion over the authenticity of various individual views and opinions under circulation among the mainstream media and public. Amidst of such prevalent circumstantial atmosphere, it was rumored and believed on certain grounds, that there were hands and stint of a few NTR family members in this entire scenario; towards this end, fingers were pointed out, primarily towards his son-in-law, that too in particular against Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the youngest son-in-law of NTR; had a systematic personal and professional build-up. A certain part of such build-up also resulted in getting him married to NTR’s youngest daughter. After marriage with NTR’s daughter, Chandrababu Naidu had his plans and wished to be successful further in politics, first in the Indian National Congress (INC) and later by shifting his political allegiance to the family party TDP. Ultimately, he was successful in realizing his dreams and wishes under TDP over the years. The effective rolling path of Chandrababu Naidu in TDP – it was observed, rumored and believed; resulted in maintaining different kinds of strategic roles even after NTR’s remarriage with LP. Since NTR’s remarriage with LP in 1993, it was found, that particular diplomatic silence was maintained by a few NTR family members, keeping in view upcoming elections to the AP Legislative Assembly. Not only NTR family members, even parts of TDP, who were uncomfortable with NTR’s style of functioning also maintained silence for a right time to take proper decision. After massive electoral victory to TDP in December, 1994; NTR assumed the Chief Minister position of AP amidst of grandeur. But, within a few months in August, 1995 a massive political coup rebelled against NTR’s leadership and the prime reason shown towards this end was that LP was interfering in the affairs of TDP and government. There were various kinds of interpretations and views expressed at different points of time on ‘what kind of reasons and actions’ resulted in ousting NTR from the Chief Ministerial position and led to rechristening the same in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Among all such views and expressions, one of the prominent inclination was role and interference of LP in TDP and government.
There developed three primary political power centers within TDP since its inception; they include NTR visibly as principal founder and first leader. Apart from NTR, at times sidetracking NTR also, another two power centers colluded and competed, they were the two son-in-laws of NTR; Dr. Daggubathi Venkateswara Rao and Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
The successful emergence of LP, as a family member of NTR, started to pose a challenge to the political power centers of his son-in-law’s. As a result, the two son-in-laws of NTR perceived LP as a threat to their political aspirations and continuation of their base in the TDP. As a result, these persons, in collusion with other NTR family members and other sources within TDP and outside TDP had masterminded to put a check to NTR & LP. This master political plot ultimately resulted in the bitter outbreak of political coup of August, 1995.
On all pragmatic, technical, legal and constitutional grounds this August, 1995 political coup was a successful one. NTR, the founder, and pride asset of TDP lost his base, primarily due to his remarriage with LP!! After this bitter, sour political coup, NTR lived only for a few months. Ultimately NTR breathed his last in January, 1996. After the sudden tragic demise of NTR, in the subsequent duration, the consolidated political base in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu as Chief Minister of AP and as supreme leader of TDP was established firmly.
Same time, the role and prospects of LP got diminished considerably and ultimately led to her disappearance on the political scene as a prominent political center of attraction. Thus, re-emergence of political base and centre within TDP rechristened in favor of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. The August, 1995 political coup, sidetracked, in due course of time various political power centers in TDP. All such power centers ‘existing and aspired to’ were among the family members of NTR only, like; two son-in-laws, two sons of NTR, LP as the second wife of NTR!! Among these existing and aspiring political power centers, LP got a humiliating oust, first in the form of NTR’s rejection as Chief Minister and TDP’s President, and then in the second phase by losing her political base completely in AP (after NTR’s death).
Thus, all this indicates that the leadership qualities of LP marched under two prime fronts, they include;
01. Since LP’s remarriage with NTR to NTR’s death, and
02. Since NTR’s death onwards;
In the first innings of LP’s political career, she was an undisclosed active insider having ability to favour and disfavour individual persons and sections by influencing NTR’s leadership decision capabilities; this role of her posed a serious check to the NTR’s son-in-laws, primarily. This inside interfering suspected nature and abilities of LP was shown, as one of the prime reasons for ousting NTR from TDP in August, 1995.
The prominent and direct role of LP started since NTR’s death in January, 1996. And, her active political career went-on during 1996-1999. Thus, though the direct leadership qualities of LP started to bud since 1996-1999, ultimately her leadership failed to blossom.
After NTR’s death, LP led a new political outfit in the form of NTR-TDP; the original TDP as established by NTR, after August, 1995 political coup, as per the Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines was recognised as a separate and original entity under the leadership of Nara Chandrababu Naidu. There was a tussle between NTR led TDP, and Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP sections over TDP assets and party symbol, etc. Ultimately, the ECI favoured and proclaimed verdict that all the assets, party symbol, etc. would be allocated to the TDP led by Nara Chandrababu Naidu as President. This ECI decision was seen as a humiliation by NTR-TDP section. Ultimately, NTR-TDP emerged as a separate political sect. After NTR’s death, LP led this NTR-TDP as a forefront leader. LP was able to become Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of AP after NTR’s death. Her role in the AP Legislative Assembly as MLA can also be analysed separately and in combination with the wider AP political discourse.
During the summer of 1996, Lok Sabha general elections held. Participation in this election was a first and prime challenge to the NTR-TDP to face and prove. The ultimate result of 1996 Lok Sabha elections was bitter and led to almost closer of NTR-TDP. During this election campaign and since 1995 August political coup onwards LP started to brand and accuse Nara Chandrababu Naidu as a cheater and traitor and pleaded the voters to reject the false TDP under Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership and extend patronage to her NTR-TDP outfit!!
On the other side, Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s election campaign, role, activism, etc. as Chief Minister and as President of TDP started to get well consolidated. Nara Chandrababu Naidu had an active base from ground level with full leaders and cadre presence, support from Kamma community, financial viability, a significant media support, a section of NTR family member’s patronage, etc.
LP as leader of NTR-TDP failed to project and build a proper political base, on pragmatic grounds; instead, she showed an individual (Nara Chandrababu Naidu) as a traitor and sought political support. LP failed to carve political space, even when opposition party INC was weak in AP, which witnessed a humiliating massive defeat in 1994 general election to the AP Legislative Assembly.
At a certain point in time, a comparative analysis of LP and Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership qualities need analysis; because LP attempted to pose a challenge to the Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP. And, Nara Chandrababu Naidu led TDP also faced and dealt with LP led TDP. The final result oriented in favour of Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership and LP led NTR-TDP started to vanish from the AP political scene entirely.
NTR-TDP under LP’s leadership failed to grab a significant vote share either from INC or TDP led by Nara Chandrababu Naidu. At the same time, this outfit cannot dare to have an electoral alliance with INC also; because TDP’s birth took place as an anti outfit to INC!! Thus, on all pragmatic sides, NTR-TDP under LP’s leadership failed to carve a niche on the AP political scene. But, at some point in time LP wished to have an electoral alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She even got succeed in posting an alliance with BJP during 1998 mid-term Lok Sabha elections. But, the terms and conditions of this partnership were unsatisfactory to NTR-TDP with regard to seats sharing. Ultimately, this electoral allied union of BJP & NTR-TDP failed to secure electoral victory.
The long-standing leadership qualities and role of Nara Chandrababu Naidu, primarily since his college days as a student leader and then as a full-fledged politician under INC and TDP frayed well in sustaining his base after August, 1995 political coup and subsequent NTR’s death. But, one of the prime negative qualities and features of Nara Chandrababu Naidu was lack of oratory skill. On the other side, LP was blessed abundantly with oratory skills but lacked other practical expertise and resources like; long-standing political experience, lack of money on a comparative basis, proper base and support from the ground level, etc. Thus, ultimately, the political scene tilted in favour of Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership in capturing and sustaining his base in TDP.
LP lost in both cases, in the first, as an inside influencer of politics as the wife of NTR and later as leader of NTR-TDP.
The final AP Legislative Assembly results of 1999 routed NTR-TDP completely.
Thus, LP lost her political base in the two phases, as mentioned above.
But, in the subsequent duration, after a few years, LP started to appear on the AP political scene, now and then, as a countering opponent to the TDP (especially to the Nara Chandrababu Naidu leadership and to a few NTR family members). This new role appeared as a useful revenge source to the opposition parties, like Yuvajana Shramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP).
This new avatar of LP can be seen and analysed as; taking ultimate revenge against TDP and NTR family which humiliated her. But, her actions continue under the guise as taking a politically right stand against malicious, untrustworthy Nara Chandrababu Naidu and other NTR family members!!By posting as taking a politically correct position; she is favouring the opposition political parties and fulfilling personal revenge!!
Thus, her present leadership, which had two unsuccessful phases previously, under TDP and NTR-TDP; started to have another phase which assists the opposition parties, primarily YSRCP. She is at present an active participant of YSRCP activities, as a regular Party member.
LP was not in a position to forge a pragmatic electoral alliance as leader of NTR-TDP during 1990’s, especially with INC, due to a prevalent political stance. That’s an understandable position in those days. But, LP after ceasing to be the leader of NTR-TDP started to pose a pragmatic ‘resonating-alliance’ with the opposition parties like YSRCP. The prime reason behind this new found alliance is based on; common enemies of TDP were becoming friends, i.e., YSRCP & LP!! This new political strategy is a shadow political step of LP taken not as a leader of NTR-TDP, but on personal grounds!!