Political Pioneers Examined: Devulapalli Amar's Insightful Commentary on Telugu Chief Ministers

 - Sakshi Post

A Whirlwind Recapitulating: 'Mudu Daarulu' Unveils Telugu Political History

Navigating Political Labyrinths

Political Odyssey Unfolded: The Deccan Power Play

Chronicles of Power and Intrigue

In an era where the number of authors and book publications is growing exponentially while the readership remains stagnant, attending book releases or introduction events can often be tedious. However, this is not the case for all books and authors. Unlike typical book launches, the introduction of Devulapalli Amar's Telugu version of 'The Deccan Power Play,' titled 'Mudu Daarulu' (which unveils astonishing facets of politics), held at Somajiguda Press Club, Hyderabad on the first of February 2024, was perhaps the epitome of a 'Whirlwind Recapitulating' of contemporary political history in the Telugu states. It's been a week since the book launch event was held formally, yet it is fresh in the memory.

The contents of Amar's book are unknown to some, less known to a few, equally recognized in various forms by others, and more familiar to those who have closely followed the events, directly or indirectly, with keen interest. Nevertheless, the entire content of the book serves as a guide for future generations, particularly for those in the age group of 18-30, especially those pursuing journalism, politics, and research. As Amar himself articulated during his concise yet precise speech, the English version will illuminate the intricacies of politics and politicking in the southern region, specifically in the Telugu states, details seldom exposed comprehensively.

Guest speakers, including BS Ramakrishna, Chakradhar, Kalluri Bhaskaram, Justice Chalameswar, and the author himself, presented the content in their unique styles to the audience, who attended in significant numbers. Fortunately, I was among them.

The central theme of the book, authored by not only a veteran journalist, popular columnist, and political analyst in both print and electronic media but also a Journalists’ Union Leader who has held several State and National Level positions, the Chairman of the United AP Press Academy, and now the National Media Advisor to the AP Government, is simply fantastic. Amar provided a concise yet descriptive and comprehensive critical appraisal regarding three distinct personalities who, in their own way and under different circumstances, ascended to the pinnacle to become Chief Ministers of the Telugu states.

Amar, having closely associated with all three in various capacities, and perhaps (though he does not claim) being a good friend to two of them (maybe all three), recounted his evidence-based experiences of their times, meticulously cross-checking available information and sources. He vividly and engagingly narrated some of the most interesting episodes in his inimitable journalistic style, both in the book and during the introduction program. The other guest speakers endorsed and qualified Amar, his book, and his speech.

In his speech, Justice Chalameswar, among other intriguing aspects, drew a comparison with the biography of Winston Churchill by the author, biographer, and journalist from The New York Times, William Manchester, titled 'The Last Lion.' Justice referred to a quote on the cover page by John F. Kennedy regarding Theodore Roosevelt: "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood..."

Among the three Chief Ministers-turned-politicians, the first two are YS Rajashekhar Reddy and N Chandrababu Naidu. With the arrival of Indira Gandhi’s Congress (I) Government after the first election held in 1978 in United AP, following Indira Gandhi's defeat after the Emergency, both of these leaders, at a politically young age, entered the legislative bodies. YSR, as a Congress (R) candidate who later joined Congress (I), and Chandrababu Naidu as a Congress (I) candidate, won the Assembly elections. Dr M Channa Reddy was the Congress (I) President then and became the CM. YSR and Babu also became close friends and served as ministers together in the Anjaiah cabinet, but they later chose different paths. All of this is documented in the book.

The interesting journey of these two politicians began from this point. From day one, Dr YSR had a clear vision and a goal to ascend to the top in the state by remaining loyal to Congress (I). On the other hand, when in 1983, NT Rama Rao launched his Telugu Desam Party, though initially opposed and contested on a Congress Party ticket, Chandrababu Naidu (NTR's son-in-law) swiftly joined the TDP bandwagon. As Amar puts it, "he quickly wormed his way to a position of extra-constitutional authority and five years later, in cold-blooded fashion, he dislodged NTR and became the CM." YSR continued in the Congress Party as a staunch and perennial dissident leader. At a young age, he also became the APCC President. Amar described these developments vividly and interestingly.

In politics, what matters is the fastest route to climb the ladder, regardless of principles or policies. Amar’s book explicitly addresses this aspect aptly, leaving it for the reader to decide who is correct and who is not. Chandrababu Naidu was the first to become Chief Minister among the two, but the path he chose was controversial then, now, and perhaps in the future as well. However, Babu and his team's media management presented a great picture, portraying him as absolutely right.

Amar's book excellently captures these facts. After NTR won the election for the second time in 1994, Babu managed to replace him with support even from NTR's family members. The 'heart-stopping centrepiece of the book,' the 'Viceroy Hotel Coup' that was 'the ultimate betrayal by Chandrababu Naidu that toppled the Iconic NTR, leaving everyone stunned,' is brilliantly scripted in the book. Perhaps he could accomplish this because he witnessed every minute aspect that occurred then. What pained Amar is that Journalist Stalwarts, including National Media, who opposed a coup by Nadendla Bhaskar Rao in 1984, ardently supported the coup in 1995. Was it perfect media management?

Another interesting fact that Amar subtly reveals in the book is that Chandrababu Naidu's first term as CM was not due to a people's mandate but rather due to his political managerial techniques and toppling games. Even his second-term victory was consequent to alliances in the elections with other parties. He could never win elections on his own.

In contrast, Dr. YSR patiently waited for his turn as a disciplined Congress Party member until 2004. To achieve this milestone, he not only changed his functioning style in several ways but also undertook a long 'Padayatra,' listening to the people's concerns and learning along the way. He led the Congress Party to victory in the 2004 elections, and the High Command had no choice but to make him Chief Minister. Not only did he bring the Congress Party to power in AP, but he also contributed a large number of Lok Sabha Members to forming the UPA Government at the centre. His loyalty to the party and Sonia Gandhi remained unwavering, and he became CM for a second time. Amar mentioned in his speech that Manmohan used to tell YSR that, because of him, the UPA government was stable.

Chapter 14 in the English book, titled 'YSR Vs Chandrababu,' provides an account of these two polar opposite personalities, covering various aspects, from entering politics to deviations and governance styles like managing state finances, differences in 'preaching and practising,' political U-turns, planning and implementing welfare schemes, alliances with other parties, and media-savvy mentalities.

Contrary to these two, Amar concludes the book by mentioning AP's current CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy lucidly, describing him as a person who introduced a new dimension to politics and public life. The reasons for the emergence of the YSRCP and the way Jagan challenged Sonia Gandhi and her Congress Party to become CM, after several painstaking steps, are well articulated. There is also a brief mention of his schemes.

This book is an exciting, wonderful, and must-read for understanding what was, what is, and what would be. Forewords are written by Justice Jasti Chalameswar and senior Journalist S Venkat Narayan. Kudos to Amar Devulapalli. 'Book Introduction is an Art,' not everyone who simply 'Reads' it, and only those who 'Study' the book are qualified to do it.

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