Once An Outsider In The Family, Jr NTR Is Now Seen As Heir to Grandpa’s Legacy
HYDERABAD, (IANS) – N.T. Rama Rao had married his cousin even before he started going to college and much before stardom. The year was 1942 and he was only 20.
NTR married Basvatarakam, the daughter of his maternal uncle. The couple had seven sons and four daughters.
However, none of them could become his political successor and it was NTR’s son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu who took up the mantle and successfully owned the political legacy of the TDP founder.
NTR’s two sons N. Harikrishna and N. Balakrishna took to acting from their childhood and the latter emerged as one of the top stars of Tollywood.
Almost all children of NTR backed Naidu when he led the revolt against him and became the chief minister in 1995, citing the growing interference of NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in party affairs and administration.
Naidu had rewarded Harikrishna with a cabinet berth. He later fell out with his brother-in-law and floated Anna TDP in 1999. On the slogan of protecting NTR’s legacy, the party contested simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assembly held the same year but drew a blank.
Harikrishna returned to TDP a decade later and Naidu made him a Rajya Sabha member. He resigned as MP in 2014 to protest the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
NTR had named his fourth son Balakrishna as his political heir, but he had confined himself to campaigning for the party. Like most of his siblings, Balakrishna had backed Naidu in the coup against NTR in 1995.
It was only in 2014 that Balaiah, as Balakrishna is popularly known, entered electoral politics, and was elected to the Assembly from Hindupur, which is considered a family pocket borough. He retained the seat in 2019.
Balakrishna’s daughter Brahmani is married to Nara Lokesh, the only child of Chandrababu Naidu.
Interestingly, Naidu is grooming Lokesh as his political successor. The young leader is still struggling to prove his mettle.
It may be recalled that Harikrishna did not like Naidu promoting Lokesh as the political successor.
Harikrishna was keen to see his son Jr NTR taking over the TDP mantle. Jr NTR is one of the top actors of Telugu film industry.
Jr NTR had briefly campaigned for TDP in 2009. However, his campaign was cut short after he was injured in a road accident. Since then, he has stayed away from politics. Harikrishna died in a road accident in 2018.
Many TDP leaders in private admit that with his huge mass appeal and uncanny resemblance to his legendary grandfather, Jr NTR alone can revive TDP.
After suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Jagan Mohan Reddy-led YSR Congress Party in 2019, TDP is passing through a difficult phase.
Even NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi wants Jr NTR to enter politics and take over TDP. She said the young man has her blessings.
Jr NTR, son of Harikrishna from his second wife, and Lakshmi Parvati had faced more or less a similar situation. It was only after huge success in films that the young actor was brought back to the family fold.
Jr NTR, who turned 40 this month, has emerged as a pan-India actor with the blockbuster RRR. He is also said to be working on a couple of other pan-India movies. In his 22-year career, he has acted in 29 films and is rated as the most successful actor from NTR clan after his grandfather and uncle Balakrishna.
Jr NTR, who started acting as a child artist, made his debut as a lead actor with ‘Ninnu Choodalani’ (2001). With good oratory skills like NTR, many see Jr NTR as a natural successor to his political legacy.
His recent meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah triggered speculation about his political plans. However, the actor remained tight-lipped. It remains to be seen if he will step in to claim the political legacy of his grandfather.
The 2019 elections saw NTR’s third generation entering electoral politics. Lokesh contested unsuccessfully for Assembly.
TDP president Chandrababu Naidu had also fielded Harikrishna’s daughter and Jr NTR’s half-sister N. Suhasini from Kukatpally Assembly constituency in Hyderabad in 2018 Telangana Assembly elections, but she too was unsuccessful.
NTR’s family is not confined to just TDP but is spread across the political spectrum.
NTR had floated TDP on an anti-Congress plank but his daughter D. Purandeswari and her husband D. Venkateswara Rao joined the Congress in 2004. Purandeswari, who was elected to Lok Sabha twice on Congress ticket and even became a minister in the UPA government, switched loyalty to BJP in 2014 following bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.
She contested from Visakhapatnam Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 but finished a poor fourth. Interestingly, Balakrishna’s second son-in-law M. Bharat was a TDP candidate in Visakhapatnam and finished runners-up.
Purandeswari’s husband, however, preferred the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) and contested for Andhra Pradesh Assembly from Parchur. Daggubati, who had won the seat on the Congress ticket in 2004 and 2009, lost the election.
Daggubati, who had backed Naidu in the 1995 coup, later came back to NTR. After NTR’s death, he remained with NTR TDP (LP) for some time. In 1999, he joined Anna TDP floated by Harikrishna. After the party’s humiliating defeat, he stayed away from politics for a few years. In 2004, he along with his wife joined the Congress party.
It is also interesting to note that no member of NTR’s extended family is into active politics in Telangana, which came into being with the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.