Andhra Pradesh

24 years later, Andhra Speaker regrets treatment meted out to NTR

The Andhra Pradesh Assembly rewound the clock for a brief moment to 1995 on Tuesday. But that was not the surprising part. What shocked the MLAs was the regret expressed by Speaker Tamineni Sitaram for having been part of the coup to unseat NT Rama Rao 24 years ago. 

“I am also a part of that sin (done to NT Rama Rao). That is the reason I was out of power for 15 years. God punished me for the crime,” said an emotional Sitaram, referring to how NTR after being unseated as CM, was not allowed by the then Speaker Yanamala Ramakrishnudu to speak in the Assembly (then in Hyderabad) when Chandrababu Naidu was asked to prove his majority in the House.

The reference to NTR was made after Telugu Desam leaders objected to rebel MLA Vamsi Vallabhneni being permitted by the Speaker to speak. Vamsi had resigned from the TDP and was subsequently suspended by the party leadership.  

“I paid the price for being part of that conspiracy to deny NTR the right to speak in the Assembly. Which is why I honour the privilege and right of every member to speak in the House now,” reasoned Sitaram. His spiel was not music to TDP ears as Sitaram then was part of the Chandrababu Naidu group that had dethroned NTR in a bloodless coup. 

Sitaram spent 15 years in the political wilderness, losing the 2004 election on the TDP ticket, losing in 2009 on Praja Rajyam ticket and again in 2014 on the YSRCP ticket. All three losses came in Amdalavalasa in Srikakulam district, which elected him as MLA in 2019. 

Ramakrishnudu, who subsequently became Finance minister, however clarified that NTR was miffed that he was not invited to the Business Advisory Committee meeting. NTR was then informed that the TDP legislature party had elected Naidu as its leader and only floor leaders were invited to the BAC meeting. 

Editor’s Note : I was in the Press Gallery on that day in 1995 when NTR walked in dramatically, looking closely at the faces of all those MLAs who had betrayed his trust. But he could not speak amidst heckling by the TDP legislators and pandemonium. The TDP leadership was not keen to let NTR speak, knowing that his speech would embarrass it. 

Sitaram with Chandrababu Naidu and Ramakrishnudu

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