Kommineni Srinivasa Rao
Late former MP Nandamuri Balakrishna, who died in a tragic accident earlier this week, was known to be an outspoken and outgoing person. He had to face troublesome times in his life, due to his straightforward nature. On certain occasions, Harikrishna was a victim of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu's political mindgames and machinations. Although Harikrishna was vocal about it a few times, he had suffered all through his life.
When late Chief Minister Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR) formed the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in 1982, neither Harikrishna nor Balakrishna were actively into politics. If Harikrishna had worked pro-actively in politics, along with his father, Andhra Pradesh's political landscape would not have been anywhere close to the current scenario with the TDP. It would have been a completely different story.
However, after NTR had announced that Balakrishna would be his political heir, Chandrababu's strategic moves at the time did the damage to Nandamuri family. Also, Harikrishna and Balakrishna's lack of interest in politics was an added advantage to Chandrababu's rise.
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NTR's marriage with Lakshmi Parvathi in 1993 created a sensation in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. Although the Nandamuri family had differences with NTR over his marriage, the TDP founder announced his marriage to the public. Following NTR's second marriage, Chandrababu, with the support of certain media houses, tried to demean the reputation of Lakshmi Parvathi by scripting false stories. At the same time, Chandrababu managed to instigate Harikrishna against NTR, who did not expect the unthinkable act of political propaganda against himself.
On the other side, Chandrababu ran a campaign against Lakshmi Parvathi, by planting false stories about NTR being kept captive by her. Also, news about Chandrababu's offer of TDP President post and ministerial berth to Harikrishna, and Deputy Chief Ministerial post to NTR's son-in-law Daggubati Venkateshwara Rao surfaced, while Balakrishna too was attracted to Chandrababu's narrative against NTR. This way, Chandrababu managed to convince TDP MLAs that the entire NTR family was behind him.
In the last days of his life, NTR was aware of the fact that it was all Chandrababu's manipulation that made his sons turn against him. Chandrababu, however, went on to oust NTR from power, got hold of the helm and cheated Venkateshwar Rao by not offering him the Deputy Chief Ministerial post. As per popular opinion, Chandrababu became the Chief Minister with the support of then Governor Krishnakanth and Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao.
Harikrishna, on the other side, served as a minister for six months, after which he had to resign since he was not elected to the Assembly six months after assuming ministership. Meanwhile, in January 1996, NTR died. With the death of NTR, the Assembly seat from Hindupur fell vacant. Later, Harikrishna won the Hindupur bye-election, following which, it was expected that he would be given the ministerial post back. But, Chandrababu was cruel to deny him the ministership.
A humiliated Harikrishna, in 1999, flouted his party. Back then, he was vocal about Chandrababu's cunning nature. However, with the prevailing political scenario in the context of Kargil war and Atal Bihari Vajpayee government's defeat by one vote in the No-Trust Vote, Chandrababu benefitted from TDP's alliance with the BJP. While Chandrababu came back to power, Harikrishna further weakened politically with the defeat.
In 2004, after Chandrababu was defeated by late Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy's Congress party, Harikrishna was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by Chandrababu, with a view to hoodwink the party cadre into believing that the party had the support of Nandamuri family. Even then, Harikrishna openly criticized TDP's attitude with respect to certain issues. Chandrababu wrote a letter to the Centre showing his support for the bifurcation of the State, whereas Harikrishna resigned from Rajya Sabha expressing his dissent against bifurcation.
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Later, after Chandrababu utilized actor Jr NTR for the 2009 election campaign, Harikrishna was saddened. Also, Harikrishna did not participate in party activities in protest against lack of recognition in the party in recent times. It has to be said that Chandrababu's importance to Balakrishna by offering to get Nara Lokesh married to Brahmani and offering him Hindupur MLA ticket widened the rift between the families of Harikrishna and Balakrishna.
All in all, Chandrababu made full use of Harikrishna's candour, aggression and innocence. It is a historic disaster that Harikrishna, who could have succeeded NTR, also had to fall victim to Chandrababu.