A rich political tradition

Print edition : May 06, 2011

CHIEF MINISTER N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who hails from Chittoor district. - KV POORNACHANDRA KUMAR

CHITTOOR is a vibrant land that has given birth to several litterateurs, musicians, spiritualists, linguists, theatre artistes, film personalities and politicians.

The district played a key role during the freedom struggle. Gandhiji visited the district three times when the movement was at its peak. Chittoor was represented in the Indian National Congress immediately after the organisation was formed in 1885. Panambakkam Ananda Charlu, a native of Kattamanchi village near Chittoor town and an advocate practising in the Madras High Court, was one of the 72 delegates at the first session of the INC held in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1885. He went on to become the Congress president at the Nagpur conclave held in 1891. As the founder-secretary of the Madras Mahajana Sabha in 1884, he mobilised leaders from Cuddapah, Bellary and Gooty areas.

Madabhushi Anantasayanam Ayyangar, hailing from Tirupati, became a member of the All India Congress Committee in the 1940s after serving as the president of the Chittoor District Congress Committee and the Andhra Provincial Congress Committee. As the president of Harijan Sevak Sangh', Ayyangar worked to eradicate untouchability.

The district saw the birth of two regional political parties and hosted a key meeting of a national party. After forming the Telugu Desam Party, N.T. Rama Rao (or NTR as he was known) held a massive public meeting in Tirupati. Similarly, film actor K. Chiranjeevi launched his Praja Rajyam Party from Tirupati. The national-level biennial conclave of the Congress was held at Tirupati in 1991, when P.V. Narasimha Rao was Prime Minister.

Chittoor produced four Chief Ministers, two for Andhra Pradesh and two for the then composite Madras State. The Raja of Panagal, Panaganti Ramarayaningar, served as the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from July 1921 to December 1926. Born in a zamindar family in Srikalahasti, he did his schooling in Madras, mastering both Sanskrit and the Dravidian languages. He also served as the president of the Justice Party for three years from 1925. Panagal Park in Chennai was named after him.

Similarly, Diwan Bahadur' Bollini Munuswamy Naidu, hailing from Vepanjeri village, ascended the Chief Minister's throne in Madras in October 1930 and served for two years. He had to step down owing to internal strife. An advocate, he was one of the early members of the Justice Party and served as its president from 1928 to 1932.

After Andhra Pradesh was formed, two politicians from Chittoor district made it to the top. N. Chandrababu Naidu from Naravaripalle, 22 km from Tirupati, started his political career as a student leader. He joined the Congress in the presence of Indira Gandhi, who made a stopover at Madanapalle in 1978, and got elected from Chandragiri. He later joined the TDP and scaled new heights after marrying NTR's daughter N. Bhuvaneswari. He later parted ways with his father-in-law and became the Chief Minister in 1995 and served up to 2004.

The present Chief Minister, Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy, hails from a family of landlords in the Kalikiri region of the district. The son of veteran politician Nallari Amarnath Reddy, Kiran Kumar was elected as a legislator from Vayalpadu in 1989, 1999 and 2004. The delimitation exercise forced him to choose the adjoining Piler Assembly segment in 2009. After serving as the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Kirankumar Reddy went on to occupy the Chief Minister's chair.

NTR (from Krishna district) and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy (from Anantapur district) got elected from Tirupati and Srikalahasti respectively, and went on to become Chief Ministers of the State. Chiranjeevi (of West Godavari district) got elected as an MLA from Tirupati segment.

Four persons from Chittoor district have occupied the Speaker's Chair. Veteran Congress leader Madabhushi Anantasayanam Ayyangar (Tirupati) became the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in 1956. At the State-level, Agarala Eswara Reddi (Tirupati) served as the Deputy Speaker and later the Speaker in the early 1980s. Gummadi Kuthuhalamma (Vepanjeri) was the Deputy Speaker in 2007-08, while Kiran Kumar Reddy (Piler) was the Speaker in 2009-10.

Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who was born in Tiruthani near the Tamil Nadu border, studied at the Lutheran Mission School in Gajulamandyam, 15 km from Tirupati. After securing a degree in philosophy, he taught at the PCR Government High School in Chittoor. He laid the foundation stone for the Rashtriya Sanskrit Vidyapeetha in 1962 when he was Vice-President; in 1989 it was declared a deemed university. Sanjiva Reddy took the lead in establishing the Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati.

A.D. Rangarajan

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