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Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao:
10th Chief Minister, Andhra Pradesh
Basava Tarakam (deceased) and Lakshmi Parvathi
Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao (Telugu: నందమూరి తారక రామా రావు) (born Nimmakuru, Krishna District, Andhra Pradesh; 28 May 1923–18 January 1996), also known as NTR and fondly referred to as Anna garu, was an actor, director, producer, and a politician of Andhra Pradesh. He is the founder of Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for three terms between 1983 and 1994. He was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1968, recognizing his contribution to Telugu cinema. After his career in movies, Rao became a political activist and a political party leader. He is known as an advocate of Andhra Pradesh's distinct cultural identity, distinguishing it from Madras State with which it was often associated.Besides Telugu, he has also acted in a few Tamil and Kannada films.
Rama Rao was born into a wealthy farming family in Nimmakuru, in Krishna district. But their fortunes overturned soon. From a young age he showed an interest in singing and developed a baritone singing voice as a young man. He studied at the Andhra University and initially acquired a job in the civil service. He entered films while in his twenties.
Career as an actor
N. T. Rama Rao appeared in over 320 films, although only around 255 films are often accounted for, and he became a legend in Telugu cinema. He often portrayed a Hindu mythological god or hero but also made an ideal villain., He portrayed Lord Krishna in Maya Bazaar, Sri Krishnarjuna Yudham, Daana Veera Soora Karna, Lord Rama (Lava Kusa), Bheeshma (Bheeshma), Ravana (Bhookailasa), and Arjuna (Nartanasala). Later he became a screenwriter. Rao received no formal academic training in movie script writing yet he authored several screen plays for his own movies as well as for other producer's movies.
He started his career playing a police inspector in the movie Mana Desam (1949). The role was offered by the director L V Prasad. Next he appeared in the film Palletoori Pilla, directed by B. A. Subba Rao. It marked the first occasion that Rama Rao and Akkineni Nageswara Rao acted together for the first time.The title role was played by Anjali Devi and the story was loosely based on the English play, Pizaro by Richard Sherton. The film was a commercial hit and ran for more than 100 days in 6 centres. He actively campaigned for the construction of a large number of movie theaters in rural locations and was influential in designing and implementing a financial system that funded the production and distribution of movies.
Awards and Honours
ANNA for All Andhra People
- Padmashri Award - Government Of India
Rao was the founder of Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and served as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. His reason for founding the Telugu Desam Party was based on a historic need to rid the state of the corrupt and inept Congress rule.When he started his political career he was already a very popular actor in the Telugu film industry.Rama Rao was unanimously elected leader of Telugu Dasam Legislature Party on January 8, 1983 with 10 cabinet ministers and five ministers of State.He became the 10th Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and was reelected three times between 1983 and 1994.
To promote the Telugu Desam Party, Rama Rao travelled across the state of Andhra Pradesh, crisscrossing all the districts, in his van dubbed "Chaitanya Ratham" (Chaitanyam literally means bringing to life or movement). With his son Hari Krishna as a driver, Rama Rao notched up over 75,000 kilometres during his 1982 campaign, a distinctive sight with the van's yellow party flags and banners and Rao sitting on top of the vehicle hailing the crowds. Rama Rao campaigned for restoring the dignity of the Telugu people and advocated the forming a closer bond between the government and the common people, going into the elections with the slogan, Telugu vari Atma Gauravam, meaning "Telugu people's self-respect. He reflected socialist views in several of his policies in that he believed that state must take care of the people that are below poverty line and everyone must have their basic necessities fulfilled. He campaigned to secure basic necessities such as home, clothes and food for the people and to provide subsidies on clothes and houses to the needy. He was also an advocate of women's rights and worked on a bill to amend inheritance law to provide equal rights for women to inherit ancestral property, enacted later, in 1986.
Rama Rao's extensive tour in the Chaitanya Ratham vehicle helped to successfully mobilize people and recruit potential leaders and members for his newly founded party. The Congress Party, then in power, panicked at the response and replaced the Chief Minister Bhavanam Venkataram with a more experienced and seasoned leader, Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy. Reddy, who was Chief Minister for just over 3 months, could not secure victory for the Congress Party in the ensuing elections in January 1983. The newly formed Telugu Desam Party won with significant margins in all three regions of the State (Coastal Andhra, Rayala Seema, and Telengana), winning over 200 seats in the 294 seat State Assembly against 56 seats by the Congress Party. Rama Rao himself contested elections from two constituencies, Tirupathi in Chittor District and Gudivada in Krishna district, and won both the seats.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1984, NTR was removed from office by the then governor Ramlal. His finance minister, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, a former Congress man, was made the Chief Minister by the Ramlal. Bhaskar Rao purportedly had the support of majority MLAs (Members of Legislative Assembly of Andhra Pradesh) which was never the case. Rama Rao disputed the claims by Bhaskara Rao and demonstrated his strength by bringing all the MLAs supporting him, which was a majority in the 294 member assembly, to the Raj Bhavan (Governor's Office). Governor Ramlal did not relent and Rama Rao campaigned for restoration of democracy by mobilizing the support of people and various political parties in the country including Janata Party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and National Conference. During the one month crisis, the MLAs supporting Rama Rao were secured in a secret place to avoid horse-trading. Due to mobilization of several political parties and the people and due to bad press, Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister and head of Congress Party, unwillingly removed Governor Ramlal and appointed a congress party veteran, Shankar Dayal Sharma, as governor of Andhra Pradesh to pave the way for restoring Rama Rao. Shankar Dayal Sharma removed Bhaskara Rao from power and restored Rama Rao as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in September 1984. He recommended dissolution of the Assembly and called for new elections in the state to ensure the people had a fresh choice to elect their representatives.
In the following month, on 31 October 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister in her place. In the ensuing national elections to the Lok Sabha, the Congress party won convincingly all over the country except in Andhra Pradesh where Rama Rao's Telugu Desam party secured a landslide victory. Senior Leaders of Congress party including Brahmananda Reddy, a former Chief Minister, and Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy, a former Chief Minister, lost in their constituencies of Narasarao Pet and Kurnool respectively to the Telugu Desam Party. Telugu Desam became the main opposition party in the Lok Sabha.
The Telugu Desam Party operations were significantly computerized and a systematic local party structure was built and this resulted in the establishment of a stable second political party that survived his death. NT Rama Rao introduced the concept of strong states with a strong center in his discussions about state power with Gandhi and ushered in a new era of empowered local governments, within the framework of India.
He suffered a mild stroke and was unable to campaign in the 1989 election, which he won.
N.T. Rama Rao returned to power in 1994 winning 250 seats (Telugu Desam won 226; CPI: 19; CPM: 05) for his party and his allies in a 294 seat Assembly. Congress party won only 26 seats. The BJP which contested 280 seats on its own won just three seats.
NTR married Basavatarakam in 1942. She died of cancer in 1985. There is a cancer Hospital established in her memory in Hyderabad. NTR remarried in 1993 at the age of 70. NTR had seven sons and four daughters from his first marriage. Prominent among his children are Bhuvaneswari, wife of Nara Chandrababu Naidu,the former chief minister of AP for 9 years; and Daggubati Purandeswari, MP and a Minister of State for Human Resources in Manmohan Singh's cabinet; Nandamuri Balakrishna a leading actor in the Telugu film industry; and Nandamuri Harikrishna, an actor turned politician and a member of Rajya Sabha (upper house of India's Parliament). NTR later took a second wife, Lakshmi Parvathi who after being widowed and the succession of TDP by Nara Chandra Babu Naidu founded her own party called the NTR Telugu Desam Party (Lakshmi Parvathi).Prominent among NTR's grandchildren are N. T. Rama Rao Jr., Kalyan Ram and Taraka Ratna; all three are actors in Telugu cinema.
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