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Sibling & state niggle for Naidu

Hyderabad, Jan. 20: Chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s estranged younger brother N. Ramamurthy Naidu is toying with the idea of leading a movement for carving out the backward Rayalseema region from Andhra Pradesh as a separate state.

“If people want me to take up the task, I will do it,” Ramamurthy, who chose not to renew his Telugu Desam Party membership following strained relations with his brother, said.

Continuously sidelined in all Desam forums, Ramamurthy has struck back by holding a series of meetings with like-minded activists in the Congress and other Opposition parties for a “Rayalseema convention”.

The convention, which could decide the younger Naidu’s future course of action, is said to have the indirect support of N.T. Rama Rao’s family members, particularly Harikrishna, the erstwhile chief of the Anna TDP.

He is also counting on the backing of Desam rebel and Telangana Rashtra Samithi president K. Chandrasekhar Rao.

Ramamurthy created a flutter in political circles when he called on Rao — he quit the Desam to launch a party to fight for statehood for the Telangana region — at his Banjara Hills residence to ostensibly discuss the political situation in the state.

Ramamurthy hails from Rayalseema, which is also witnessing a demand for statehood from some quarters. When he met local senior Congress leader M.V. Mysoora Reddy with his proposal, Reddy was averse to joining the movement but showed solidarity with the regional cause.

Ramamurthy plans to launch his new political venture from the legendary Ganesh temple at Kanipaka, about 60 km from Chittoor town, after receiving blessings from Tirupati. He has also apparently sought the blessings of the Puttaparthi Sai Baba.

Desam circles dismissed Ramamurthy’s vehicle as a partnership of those who failed to procure any position in the Desam and other parties. “The people of Chittoor are disgusted and embarrassed with the antics of Ramamurthy Naidu,” said K. Prabhakar Reddy, a Desam Rajya Sabha MP.

Desam circles are wary of Ramamurthy, but have been maintaining a silence since their chief has chosen to ignore him. Everyone in the party headquarters feels it is high time the elder Naidu played tough with his brother.

The sibling rivalry came to the fore during the party’s organisational elections last month, when Ramamurthy’s followers sought to disrupt the membership drive demanding that their leader be made the in-charge of Chandragiri constituency in Chittoor district.

But the arm-twisting tactics failed. Once a member of the party’s general council, Ramamurthy’s name did not figure even on the officer-bearers’ list for Chittoor district this time.

“Ramamurthy had decided to quit politics two years ago. I did not stop him. But today he wants to rejoin and wants an important position in the district unit. I just cannot undermine the performance of other senior leaders to foist Ramamurthy on the district. If he wants to be in politics, he must earn the respect of partymen and climb the ladder on his own,” Chandrababu had said.

But Ramamurthy, who was so far considered only a nuisance, could end up as a headache for his chief minister-brother by demanding statehood for Rayalseema and fanning dissidence in the party unless Chandrababu diplomatically sidelines him again.

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