A member of parliament from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has triggered a row with his remark that party founder late N T Rama Rao (NTR) did more for the Telugu people than Mahatma Gandhi.
Lok Sabha member from Vijayawada, Kesineni Srinivas, made the remarks on Tuesday while defending the installation of the TDP founder's statue at SRR and CVR College in Machavaram village in Vijayawada.
"NTR is no less than Gandhi. In fact, he has done more for Telugu people than Gandhi," said the MP replying to the argument by those opposing the statue that NTR was no Gandhi.
The statue of the former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister was unveiled in the college premises on his 21st death anniversary despite protests by a few student groups owing allegiance to opposition parties.
Police detained a few students who tried to disrupt the ceremony by raising slogans. The protesters were removed from the college premises.
Students' Federation of India (SFI), All India Students Federation (AISF), National Students' Union of India (NSUI) and other student groups objected to the installation of the statue.
TDP leaders, however, defended the move on the ground that NTR was an alumnus of the college. They said the college management and alumni students' association took the decision to install the statue.
Srinivas said that since the statue was not installed on the road and caused no obstruction to the movement of traffic, nobody should have any objection.
NTR's sons N Harikrishna, N Balakrishna, grandsons Junior NTR, Kalyanram and other family members and leaders of TDP paid floral tributes at NTR Ghat on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad.
The late leader's second wife Lakshmi Parvathi, daughter Bhuwaneswari, wife of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu and her daughter-in-law Brahmini also visited NTR Ghat to pay tributes.
Balakrishna, a leading Telugu actor and TDP legislator, garlanded NTR's statue at Rasoolpura junction and launched Amar Jyothi rally which concluded at NTR Ghat.
Speaking on the occasion, he said NTR was the greatest leader, who fought for self-respect of Telugu people, worked relentlessly for the welfare of poor and backwards sections of society and launched many revolutionary schemes.
Balakrishna said TDP founded by NTR was not merely a political party but a system. He claimed that no other party has such a huge cadre base.
He added the TDP would bring pressure on the central government to confer country's highest civilian award Bharat Ratna on NTR.
Popular actor Junior NTR said though NTR physically left this world 21 years ago, he would always remain in the hearts of Telugu people.
Chandrababu Naidu's son and TDP leader N Lokesh paid tributes to NTR in Vijayawada and inaugurated NTR Museum on the occasion.
Legendary actor NTR had launched TDP in 1982 on the slogan of Telugu self-respect and created record of sorts by coming to power within nine months, ending the single party rule of Congress in the undivided Andhra Pradesh.
He died on January 18, 1996, a few months after Naidu led a revolt in the party and became the Chief Minister.