It began as an ego clash within the Telugu Desam Party family,with an uncle seeking to promote his son-in-law at the cost of his nephew,before the YSR Congress Party pitched in craftily on behalf of the nephew.
N Balakrishna,son of TDP founder N T Rama Rao,sees his son-in-law N Lokesh as the emerging face of the party. The other contender is his nephew N T Rama Rao Junior. Balakrishna and NTR Junior are both popular film actors,following in the footsteps of the founder. Lokesh,son of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu and married to Balakrishna’s daughter Brahmani,is an MBA with a much lower profile.
The ego clash includes two subplots. NTR Junior’s father,N Harikrishna,is sulking at being upstaged by brother Balakrishna,while Naidu is fond of NTR Junior,although its his son whom Balakrishna is promoting.
Of late,the YSR Congress has been putting up banners and boards with photos of NTR Junior and his grandfather alongside those of Y S Jaganmohan Reddy and his late father,Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. These have appeared in several cities,upsetting Balakrishna who feels that this calls for an explanation by his nephew. Uncle and nephew are no longer on talking terms.
“As a TDP member he should be careful who he is seen with,” says Balakrishna,who also accuses his nephew of making films with political connotations. NTR Junior should explain why his photo is being used by the YSR Congress when he is a TDP member.”
NTR Junior,29,named after his grandfather whom he closely resembles,is known for punch dialogues and has hundreds of fan clubs that could form a sizeable vote bank. He campaigned for the party in 2009 and though it fared badly,his popularity still makes him a potential future leader in the opinion of many.
Lokesh,32,a soft-spoken MBA from Stanford,has none of NTR Juniors mass appeal. He manages the Naidu family business,Heritage Foods (Pvt) Ltd,as vice-president,besides planning and handling his fathers meetings and schedules.
Last week,when NTR Junior went to promote his film Baadshah in Vijayawada,where he is hugely popular,there was no sign of the TDP activists who would welcome him every previous time. TDP leaders,who usually flock events promoting films with both Balakrishna and NTR Junior,have been absent at many events for Baadshah. Balakrishna denies any suggestion that he has tried to scuttle these functions.
Now YSR Congress workers and leaders having been doing what the TDP hasn’t,throwing parties to celebrate the film’s release. Its eye on the fan clubs,who are delighted at the promotion,the YSR Congress put up flexi-boards and welcome banners with the photos that upset Balakrishna.
Balakrishnas brother says everyone has the right to use the legendary NTR’s photo. “He was like a god to people. His photos are in many homes. So what if someone has used his photo on a banner?” he told journalists on Monday.
“Harikrishna conveniently omitted mention of fact that it is the YSR Congress that has been using NTR’s photos,” said a TDP source. “It is unlikely that either he or NTR Junior will ever quit the TDP,but Harikrishna is using this controversy to assert himself and put his brother in place.”
Harikrishna is a Rajya Sabha MP but is sulking because party chief Naidu hasnt given him a prominent enough role. Balakrishna,on the other hand,plans to contest next years elections.
Naidu,who is on a 2,500 km “padayatra” and currently in East Godavari,has avoided intervening in a controversy that pitches his sons interests against those of an actor he is fond of. YSR Congress leaders refused to comment.