The Telugu World column# 10
National Party Chiefs, Governors
Prof. Ranga, (November 7, 1900–June 9, 1995) V.V. Giri and Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy were among many Telugus who shone in politics outside their state, like many people in other fields. It will take several columns to even list all of them. Though I agree with Sir Cuttamanchi about Telugus ‘transplanted’, it may apply even to others who work outside their linguistic areas, for, an American psychologist’s study showed that bilingual kids are smarter and more intelligent. They even excel in maths; being bilingual enables looking at an issue differently as languages differ in syntax, the study found.
It was only during my brief stay in Andhra and knowing a Telugu journalist (‘Mukku’ Sharma) who insisted on writing full names, like ‘Paamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Ravu gaaru’ for PV every time, that I came to know that his name was Gogineni Ranga Nayakulu (I remember hearing Prof. Ranga say, “even my wife Bharati does not remember that”.) Briefly he was with the Kisan Mazdoor Praja Party founded by J. B. Kripalani which became the Praja Socialist Party later, and was the founder President of the Swatantra Party. He was educated at Oxford in England, taught at Pachayappa’s College in Madras (now Chennai), was considered the founder of India’s peasant movement and adult education drive, got into the Guiness Book of World Records for being an MP for 60 years and was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest national honor. He authored several books. His great grandson Mahesh Gogineni, a tech entrepreneur, is married to the TVS family scion heading Sundaram Clayton, Lakshmi. She was divorced in 2015 by Rohan, son of Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.
Prof. Ranga who died in Ponnur in 1996 was born at Nidubrolu in Guntur district of AP. Guntur is also known for being the district of Kasu Brahmananda Reddy, who was Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and Union Home Minister. Much is made of a Christian, Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, becoming CM of AP. But even his father, Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy was not the first Christian to be CM. That the first Christian CM of AP (then undivided) was Brahmananda Reddy may be a surprise to many.
Special Correspondents covering the Indian National Congress (among other things) used to go to the residence of the then Congress president Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, at the daily briefing time fixed. Having met him earlier in Bhopal I was very informal with him and asked if he was a Tirupati Venkateswara devotee, as a wall-sized picture of the God was behind the desk from which he used to speak to us. Dr. Sharma told me he was allotted the house formerly occupied by Kasu Brahmananda Reddy and said, “though a Christian” Kasu was a devotee of Venkateswara. When I showed surprise, he asked me if, being a Telugu, I did not know that Kasu was a non-practicing Christian whose ancestors were among the many thousands converted in Guntur. Years later, while driving to cover cyclone damage in Guntur-Ongole-Nellore region, I saw churches every few miles. That was the first time I learnt that AP had lakhs of converted Christians who were so only on paper, but were a major vote bank. Rajasekhar Reddy was one such; a doctor who never practiced medicine or Christianity. Dr. S. D.Sharma, not following the Lord of Tirupati then, became a devotee later; by chance I saw him, Vice-President of India, perform Angapradakshina (rolling around the temple) there years later.
Andhra had the distinction of not only having a Christian CM but was also India’s first Dalit CM, Damodaram Sanjivayya from January 11, 1960 to March 12, 1963 succeeding Neelam Sanjeev Reddy, AP’s first CM. He was, like Neelam, also Congress President and Union Minister.
D. Sanjivayya (born February14, 1921 and died March 8. 1972) was born in a Mala family (caste again) in Peddapadu village of Kurnool district. His father died when he was young. Though a municipal school student, he was brilliant. He took a law degree from Madras Law College and was a freedom fighter even in his college days.
As we are talking of Telugus who shone outside the Telugu states and dealing first with politicians, we will list Telugu governors and Union Ministers. The Congress had a culture of ‘rehabilitating’ politicians as governors when machinations of rival factions to oust them from real power succeeded. The ruling BJP does the same now. Telugu leaders who were Governors (some after being Union Ministers) include Bezawada Gopala Reddy who left ministry to become the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, P. Chandra Reddy (AP) V.V. Giri (Karnataka), Kasu Brahmananda Reddy (Maharashtra),K. Rosaiah (Tamil Nadu and Karnataka), Kona Prabhakara Rao (Maharashtra), Pendekanti Venkatasubbaiah (Bihar), Dr. Marri Chenna Reddy(Tamil Nadu), P.S. Rammohana Rao (Tamil Nadu) V. Rama Rao Rao (Sikkim), K. V. Krishna Rao (Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur and Tripura) V.S. Ramadevi (Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka), and P.Ramachandran (Kerala) ) and now BJP’s Bandaru Dattatreya (governor of Himachal Pradesh now), C. Vidyasagar Rao (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu).