Chandrababu roping NTR family members
Narendra Ch | 13 Apr 2008

The Telugu Desam president, N. Chandrababu Naidu, on Saturday invited the sons and grandsons of N.T. Rama Rao to a luncheon to win their support for his 150-day rath yatra starting on Apri 21.

The Telugu Desam president, N. Chandrababu Naidu make a surprising move on Saturday iby inviting the sons and grandsons of N.T. Rama Rao to a luncheon to win their support for his 150-day rath yatra starting on Apri 21.

With this stroke, he is planning to counter Congress attempts to `hijack' NT Rama Rao's pet schemes and also safe guard party's hold among people when cine actor Chiranjeevi starts his new political party later this year.

Of special significance was the presence of Jr NTR, a popular film actor and grand son of N T Rama Rao, from whom Naidu had kept a distance even as he wooed the rest of the N.T. Rama Rao family.

Naidu is working to win back support after the Congress government in the state successfully relaunched the Rs 2-a-kg rice scheme originally conceived by N.T. Rama Rao. Already  NTR's elder daughter Purandareswari  is in the union cabinet and her husband  and former TDP's minister  Daggubati Venkateswara Rao is now  Congress MLA in AP.

The luncheon meeting was arranged by NTR’s son Ramakrishna in a bid to bring about a rapprochement between Naidu and other members of the family. In attendance at Saturday’s lunch were NTR’s sons Nandamuri Balakrishna and Nandamuri Harikrishna, who is now a office-bearer in the Telugu Desam, and grandsons Jr NTR and Kalyan Ram.

All the four are from the tinsel world and command a good fan following. Naidu, NTR’s son-in-law had distanced himself when he was in power. But after losing the May 2004 elections, he made feeble attempts to win back the support of the family.

Last year, he gave his son Lokesh in marriage to Balakrishna’s daughter Brahmani. Earlier this year, he made Harikrishna a member of the Rajya Sabha. Hari Krishna is also member of party’s highest decision making polit bureau. During the luncheon, Harikrishna ensured that his two sons, Jr NTR and Kalyan Ram, agree to canvass for Naidu.

Naidu had previously kept himself aloof from Jr NTR. The luncheon was kept a closely guarded secret and the usually media-friendly Naidu did not invite even news photographers.

According to sources, he requested Balakrishna, Harikrishna and his two film actor-sons to accompany him for a week each during the rath yatra. “The idea is to pay back the Congress in its own coin,” a senior TD leader from the coastal belt said.

“The ruling party is using NTR’s name to come closer to voters. This prompted Naidu to seek the support to NTR’s family since they are from the Tollywood and have a wide support base.”

Chandrababu Naidu’s move also gaining significance in view of popular cine star Chiranjeevi is planning to start a new political party with in two months. Many observers feeling that TDP will lose many of its leaders once Chiranjeevi starts his party. Naidu seems to be making moves to keep up his party’s hold from Chiranjeevi’s cine glamour by roping the support from NTR’s family.(EOM)