The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu sets May date for party revival

Hyderabad, Feb. 2: Chandrababu Naidu is expected to kick off the process of getting the Telugu Desam Party fighting-fit for the general elections at its annual convention ó Mahanadu ó to be held in Tirupati at the end of May.

The Mahanadu will lay down the agenda for the parliamentary elections while sending a strong message to those who have raised the banner of revolt in the party. Party workers are hoping Naidu, who has been accused of being soft on dissidence, will crack down on the rebels, notable his brother Ramamurthy, who has threatened to launch a movement for a separate state of Rayalseema.

The workers are expecting that their chief will sack Ramamurthy from different party forums and several other rebellious leaders in East Godavari, Kurnool and other districts to enforce order in the party.

He has already started oiling the party machinery. Naidu, addressing the Desam politburo after a session of the extended general assembly of the party, said nearly 60,000 members of booth committees would be selected and trained as polling agents. Desam boasts of nearly two crore members and its presence is felt in a majority of the self-help groups floated with government funds.

These self-help groups are being cleverly used by Naidu as a platform for debate on the draft budget proposals in circulation at the district and mandal levels. They also come in handy in forming opinion in favour of the reforms drive and digitalisation of services.

Naidu had started the training for partymen last week with instructions in physical fitness and in audio-visual techniques for campaigners. Desamís administrative structure is built on American lines to galvanise its members in different walks of life only during elections.

The training camps are being held on the campus of the newly-acquired party office at Gandipet. The property was recently handed over to Desam after a protracted legal battle waged by NTRís wife Lakshmi Parvati.

The party now hopes to secure control over NTRís museum as well. It houses NTRís personal collections throughout his long career in films and in politics, assembled from his houses in Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad, in a three-storey building.

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