Hyderabad, Dec. 3: The Telugu Desam today suspended 20 supporters of Ramamurthy Naidu, brother of party chief Chandrababu Naidu, for disrupting the membership drive at Chittoor. But Ramamurthy was spared.
The decision came after hours of debate between Naidu and politburo members over yesterday’s incident.
Ramamurthy hit the streets because he was kept out of a steering committee set up for the membership drive. His loyalists not only threatened to resign from the party, but also actively blocked the membership drive.
The supporters gheraoed the district Desam office at Chittoor, Naidu’s home turf, in the presence of the local legislator and state employment generation minister B. Gopalakrishna Reddy.
The minister and the senior party leaders told the chief minister they were helpless and gave up the campaign.
Last year, too, Ramamurthy loyalists had created a similar scene ahead of the membership drive. Finally, the Desam high command bowed down to him and allowed him to take the lead in the campaign. His henchmen were inducted as members.
Ramamurthy, who had taken a break from politics after losing the Chandragiri seat in 1999, joined issue with brother Chandrababu last week, asking him why he should not return. Since the defeat, he was focusing on his business and been low-key in the party.
Chandrababu was against his brother’s candidature since he contested the Kuppam seat in 1989.
However, Ramamurthy got the party ticket from Chandragiri with the support of Lakshmi Parvathi in 1994. In 1999, Chandrababu was forced to give him the ticket under pressure from his mother and other relatives.
Family circles and close aides of the party chief said he wanted Ramamurthy to stay out of politics for more reasons than one. But when Ramamurthy sought to return to politics, the brothers fell apart. Their mother’s efforts to make peace also failed.
Politburo members said any immediate action would attract media attention and give an opportunity to Ramamurthy and the Congress to exploit the situation. The Desam is not in a sound position in the district and cannot afford bad publicity.
Thus, party leaders felt it was best to spare Ramamurthy and act against his his second rung. “More suspensions will follow if they defy the party diktat,” said Umareddy Ventakeswarlu, senior party spokesman.
Naidu also held a tele-conference with leaders at Chittoor.