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Dissident brother flexes muscle in Naidu village

Hyderabad, Oct. 20: Dissent, it seems, runs within the Desam family.

After Telugu Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu’s heartburn against his step mother-in-law Lakshmi Parvati’s elevation in 1995, it is now the turn of Ramamurthy Naidu to organise a show of strength against his chief minister brother in Chandragiri town of Chittoor.

Chandragiri is Chandrababu’s first Assembly seat and includes his native village Naravaripalli. Galla Aruna Kumari of the Congress who holds the seat at present had defeated Ramamurthy in the 1999 elections.

Ramamurthy strayed away from active politics after the defeat. However, he held a rally last week, ignoring his brother’s directives to mark his “return to active politics”.

The rally, which lasted till the wee hours the next day, was attended by thousands of his supporters in the Desam.

“I have bounced back into active politics on the request of my followers,” said Ramamurthy. “My programmes are not aimed at either belittling my brother or the Desam. I do not find anything wrong in participating in a rally,” he said.

Desam circles were, however, agog with the soft-pedalling of the incident by the high command. “Naidu appears to be very soft towards his own brother while he has punished others very severely in the party,” senior party leaders said.

Chandrababu had promoted rival groups in each district within the Desam to keep dominant groups in check. Thus, Ramamurthy’s rise is being seen as an affront to the official lobby in the native district.

Differences within the Desam surfaced over the Food for Work Programme after a majority of contractors for the project were found to be self-help groups managed by Desam activists.

“Each district is now dominated by two to three groups in the party and the high command is unable to do a balancing act,” the leaders said.

Party activists, however, feel that it was part of Chandrababu’s strategy to marginalise family members from the party. Sources said he is more concerned about the “defiance”, as it might set an example for others.

The Desam chief is leaving nothing to chance. During a recent visit to his native district, Chandrababu met many dissident leaders and appeased them.

But the dissidence coming from Chandrababu’s own house has now “upset him more than anything else”, sources said.

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