By T S Sudhir
The essential rule in the game of statue is that you need to keep silent, not even twitch a muscle or flutter your eyelashes. Statue-obsessed politicians of Andhra Pradesh however, don’t know the virtue of silence and are flouting all rules of the game as they pit the statue of one dead leader against the other.
Bhala teri statue meri statue se behtar kaise?
There are 1200 Y S Rajasekhara Reddys in Andhra Pradesh now. And courtesy son Jaganmohan Reddy’s discovery of Andhra Pradesh, dad dearest is the most prominent landmark in five districts so far. And with 18 more districts to cover, Jagan would hope YSR covers as much roadspace and mindspace of the voters.
District officials have chosen to look the other way, as Jagan unveils a YSR here and a YSR there. Much to the chagrin of Chandrababu Naidu, who during his district tours, finds that the sight of bete noire YSR continues to haunt him even after he is no more.
The Telugu Desam never went on a Jagan-like overdrive to erect statues of their founder-president, N T Rama Rao. The few that came up had NTR in his trademark hero pose, which as a TDP leader once admitted to me, made them a bit uncomfortable.
Why, I asked? NTR’s left hand stretched out, he replied half in jest, was as if he was rebuking Chandrababu Naidu and company and ordering them to just keep away from him, for reducing him from a hero to a zero.
But now YSR statues are facing an inhouse threat. Telangana Congress leaders have threatened to pull down YSR statues in Telangana region, if Jagan supporters heckle them. This after `YSR fans’ got into a skirmish with self-styled loyalist number 1 of the Gandhi parivaar, V Hanumantha Rao in Mahbubnagar this Saturday.
Talking of Telangana, you cannot ignore BJP’s rediscovered love for the region. The party doesn’t tire of reminding everyone that way back in 1998, at Kakinada, it had promised `one vote, two states’. Then, of course the marriage of convenience with Chandrababu Naidu took place and the BJP had to sacrifice its `love’ for Telangana to be with `anti-Telangana’ Naidu.
Now since last year, the BJP has been demanding that a statue of Komaram Bheem be erected in Hyderabad. Komaram Bheem was a tribal revolutionary from Adilabad who fought against the Nizam in the early 20th century.
The hurdle is that the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has not been forthcoming in permitting any new statue in the city. So some of the more radical Telangana votaries are threatening to pull down any one of the existing 32 statues on Tank Bund, abutting Husainsagar lake and instal Bheem’s statue instead. Given the saffron brigade’s expertise in pulling down structures, this threat cannot be taken lightly.
TRS MLA and K Chandrasekhar Rao’s US-returned son, K T Rama Rao, demands “a level-playing field”.
“During the Telangana agitation last December, a number of statues and busts of Potti Sriramulu, the leader who played an important role in the creation of Andhra Pradesh, were defaced and damaged by pro-Telangana activists. But when unified Andhra activisits searched in their region to locate a statue of a Telangana leader to take revenge, they could not find any. If Komaram Bheem’s statue is not installed in Hyderabad, we will target the statues of Andhra region politicians like Kasu Brahmananda Reddy,” says Rama Rao.
It is not a nice thing to do but one ended up doing a survey of the domicile status of the 32 men and women of eminence on Tank Bund. Seven of them belonged to Telangana region.
People like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Sri Ramadasu, Alluri Sitaramaraju, Sir Arthur Cotton and Rani Rudramma Devi would have never imagined that one day, long after they are gone, they too could be subjected to the quota raj.