The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naidu to tap NTR legacy

Hyderabad, May 26: The three-day national convention or mahanadu of the Telugu Desam Party, beginning tomorrow at Tirupati, is expected to throw up some surprises.

Senior party leader C. Ramachandraiah summed up the likely changes when he said: “It will be less of Chandrababu Naidu and more of the TDP and its mentor .T. Rama Rao for a change.”

Coinciding with the Desam’s 20th anniversary, party president and chief minister . Chandrababu Naidu is expected to reposition his party again as the alternative to the Congress and the BJP.

The strategy is aimed at boosting the confidence of cadre who fear Naidu’s emphasis on development at the cost of welfare would dry up votes.

Many Desam parliamentarians said the Tirupati convention would set the stage for the re-emergence of the party as a frontline organisation for non-BJP forces.

Asked if that would mean distancing the Desam from the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance, a party ideologue said “it only meant Naidu will readjust his and the party’s attitudes to become vibrant nationally and retain its distinct identity”.

Most of the resolutions are expected to be high on emotive content, with the emphasis on the Desam’s turnaround from a development-and-reforms module to a welfare-and-populist one.

“It is not changing our directions or policies, but only rephrasing them for a different audience — the voters in both urban and rural regions,” spokesman and ideologue Uma Reddy Venkateswarlu said.

The anti-incumbency factor and a third term in mind, Naidu is expected to project himself as the carrier of the beacon of hope for non-Congress, non-BJP forces.

Breaking away from earlier mahanadus, the Desam resolutions will show the party is not totally in alliance with either the NDA or the BJP. “Efforts are being made to display that the Telugu Desam differs from the BJP and the NDA in more ways than one,” party leader Ravula Chandrasekhar Reddy said.

“Our partnership with the NDA is only temporary and we stuck to our divergent views on Ayodhya, Article 370 and Kashmir.”

Naidu is also scheduled to announce more sops for Dalits, backward classes, women, youths and farmers in the form of concessions and beneficiary-oriented schemes, Chandrasekhar Reddy said.

Nearly 3,000 labourers have been slogging for over a month in the searing heat to set up the venue at Urban Haat, 15 km from Tirupati town.

Amid frenetic attempts at putting the finishing touches, a girder toppled after flash-rain lashed the massive structure built for the convention. State excise minister Tammineni Sitaram escaped the girder narrowly.

The party and administration are working overtime to cut down on chaos by introducing SIM-card embedded identity cards for the 12,000 delegates. Entry to the convention and dining halls will be restricted as a consequence.

The chief minister’s office will set up a portable communications unit in the town to monitor contacts between Hyderabad and Tirupati, besides security and protocol.

The delegates will find some relief from the heavy strategising in the form of delicacies made from special recipes of south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, Prakasham, Nellore and Chittoor districts.

About 500 cooks have been hired for the three days, mahanadu administration convener Prabhakar Reddy said.

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