(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura)
Newton’s the Third Law of Motion states: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
This Law of Motion, though a Natural Law, is applicable to Politics as well. During the past few months attracting the leaders and workers from other parties has been more forceful than consolidating their party cadre by all political parties. Not a single party is an exception. Loyalists and those enjoyed powers for decades too are prone to jump the fence. Once the candidates are announced, we can expect exodus from each constituency. In fairness, with all our aversion to them, both the IN and OUT gates of the Communists are not opened frequently. They have committed cadre and few politicians can afford to be committed.
All these changes are described as necessary for the development of the Constituency, District, State and the Country the case in point is recent joining TDP of the Kotla family in Kurnool district.
Kotla and KE are the two traditionally rival groups in Kurnool Dist since the pre-independence days. Welcoming Kotla Jayasuryaprakash ( Junior Kotla for short) Reddy, three time MP and a former Union Railway Minister, Chief Minister Chandrabbau Naidu said the two families are joining hands in the interests of the development of the district and for the first time and naturally takes credits for it. There is no wonder, if he wins the 2019 Assembly elections, he will certainly take credit for the revolutions of earth, the stars, the Sun and the Moon: “I taught the Theory of Gravitational Force to Newton.”
Facts need to be made known. Kotla Venkata Subba Reddy, paternal uncle of of the late Chief Minister of erstwhile AP Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy, (Senior Kotla, for convenience) father of Junior Kotla and KE Madanna, (Senior KE) father of KE Kishnamurthy, (Junior KE ) the Dy CM locked horns for the Membership of the Kurnool Dist Board in 1938, respectively from Justice and Congress Parties.
Senior KE won the election. After Independence Kotla family became active in the Congress. Both the families were working together for the Congress. In the first ever general elections, in 1952 both joined hand for the victory of Nayakanti Sankar Reddy for the general seat and Damodar Sanjeevaiah from the reserved seat to the Madras Legislative Assembly.
In the 1955 mid-term poll to the Andhra Assembly, again combined effort resulted in the success of the senior Kotla and Sanjeevaiah to the Andhra Assembly. With the formation of Andhra Pradesh, Sanjeevaiah again became a Minister in the Sanjeev Reddy’s cabinet and the senior Kotla, the Secretary of the Congress Legislature Party.
With the elevation of Sanjeev Reddy as the President of the AICC, in 1959, Sanjeevaiah became the Chief Minister, the first ever Dalit and the youngest CM in India. Reddy lobby in the cabinet was not happy with the independence approach of Sanjeevaiah and the increasing influence of the minister for Public Works Department (PWD) Alluri Sathyanarayana Raju.
A vertical rift arose in the cabinet and all over the tate in the APCC. In 1962 general elections to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha, Senior Kotla, who lost at Yemmiganur followed Sanjeeva Reddy, who won the Dhone Assembly seat.
Senior KE did not contest. However, along with another Backward Class Leader, KB Narasapppa from Pathikonda backed Sanjeevaiah, contesting from Kodmur, who won.
Sanjeeva Reddy managed to become the CM again. Sanjeevaiah was nominated President of the AICC. The Supreme Court made some adverse comments in the Kurnool dist Bus Nationalisation Case. Justice Koka Subba Rao held: “As the Chief Minister has not opted to file a counter, we are constrained to hold that Sanjeeva Reddy, the CM is motivated by bias and ill will.” and struck down the Nationalisation. Following the strictures, Sanjeeva Reddy had to resign the Chief Ministership in Feb. 1964.
Kasu Brahmananda Reddy became the Chief Minister and the Senior Kotla followed him. Sanjeevaiah, then the Union Minister for Labour managed to secure tickets to his group in the district for the 1967 Assembly Elections.
Senior Kotla, the chairman, Zilla Parishad was too denied a ticket. Sanjeevaiah lost the election to the Lok Sabha from Kurnool to Y Gadilingana Gowd of the Swatantra Party. The majority of his followers, including Narasappa also lost. But the Senior KE scraped through with a narrow margin from Kurnool. All those elected from the opposition were Swatantra Party candidates and backed by the Senior Kotla. Almost all of them joined Congress and the Senior Kotla was rewarded with a berth in Brahmananda Reddy cabinet in 1967, and later elected an MLC. In 1971, Sanjeevaiah did not opt to enter the electoral battle to the Lok Sabha mi- term poll. Senior Kotla for having supported VV Giri in the 1969 Presidential Elections, became the strong man of the district. His cousin Kotla Kodandarami Reddy won the Kurnool Lok Sabha.
Mounting Telangana agitation led by Dr M Chenna Reddy under the banner of Telangana Praja Samithi (TPS), compelled the resignation of Brahmananda Reddy’s Cabinet. V Narasimha Rao, the next CM kept Kotla group at arm’s length. So, the senior Kotla was again in the wilderness. Hence he could not influence the 1972 Assembly elections. Sanjeevaiah form above got a lion’s share, as many as five out to 13 unopposed to the Assembly. With the death of Sanjeevaiah in May 1972, the mantle fell on KB Narasappa to lead the group.
In 1977 general elections to the Lok Sabha, senior Kotla was the Indira led Congress (R) candidate from Kurnool. Though the party and Indira herself lost, Kurnool with a comfortable majority elected the senior Kotla. The rival group was not active. By 1978 Congress (R) was split into splinter groups in some states. It was Reddy Congress in AP with Brahmananda Reddy as its chief.
Though Indira was out of power, Congress (R) under DR Chenna Reddy’s Presidentship, with some unknown and unfamiliar faces won the majority. Senior Kotla’s group lost heavily in the dist also. The rival group was still led by Narasappa and the Senior KE was its beacon light.
Withdrawing from electoral politics, he set up his son the Junior KE from Dhone who won and became first a Parliamentary secretary, and later a Dy Minister in the Airbus Cabinet led by T Anjaiah in 1980. In 1982 May NT Rama Rao launched the Telugu Desam Party. With his cinema glare, he was drawing huge crowds.
While Indira’s Charisma was waning, there was none to match his Charisma. At the fag end of the Assembly term in 1982, senior Kotal was elected the leader of the Congress Legislature Party to form the Govt. In 1983 January elections, TDP won hands down. Congress lost heavily, all over the State, and even in Kurnool dist. However, Junior KE Dhone and the Senior Kotla from Yemmiganur were elected on Congress Tickets.
Since Senior Kotla was a member of the Lok Sabha, he was sworn in Union Minister. Since the Senior Kotla continued to be the Central Minister, Narasappa, being bedridden, KE family found its future bleak in the congress and switched over to the TDP by 1984 and the senior Kotla had to face the defeat in Kurnool Parliamentary Constituency, the second in his political life.
Apart from NTR’s crowd-pulling capacities, dramatic personalities, KE family’s iron will to defeat Kotla family caused the victory to the Parliament of Erasu Ayyapu Reddy, an Advocate turned politician and a contemporary of the Senior Kotla. In 1985 Midterm poll to the Assembly, Junior K.E, was elected from Dhone and held the prestigious Major Irrigation Portfolio in NTR’s Cabinet.
In 1988. NTR, on a large scale, reshuffled the Cabinet. Junior KE too was dropped. Enraged with the insult, K.E family made a ‘homecoming.’ and along with a majority of the Congress Candidates, Junior KE won the Dhone seat with a comfortable majority. Expecting Cabinet berth, he continued in the congress, only to be disappointed.
In 1991 mid-term poll to the Parliament, in the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Senior Kotla won the Kurnool Lok Sabha seat, in spite of the indirect support of the KE group to the opposition TDP candidate.
KEs aligned with the powerful Rajasekhar Reddy group, which toppled both Chenna Reddy and Janaradhana Reddy at the State level. Junior KE’s chances of getting Cabinet birth was ruled out when the Senior Kotla himself became the C.M. in Oct.1992. Senior KE died in May,1993.
Both the senior Kotla and the Junior KE vied and filed nominations for the Dhone Assembly seat in 1994 General Elections. At the intervention of the Prime Minister P.V.Narasimha Rao, K.E was persuaded to withdraw his nomination from Dhone and seek election from Kurnool town.
Some local well-wishers of both the groups like the present writer himself (President of the Kurnool Town Congress Committee and Chairman of the Zilla Grandhalaya Samstha), K.V.Chalapathi Ro, a leading Advocate of the Kurnool bar and M.Sudhakkar Babu, earlier Chairman, Kurnool Municipal Council also played their part. V. Ramabhupal Choudary, a Minister, representing Kurnool, reluctantly retired form contest. While senior Kotla won form Dhone, KE lost at Kurnool Assembly.
The same YSR group played a key role in the electoral debacle of the Congress in the 1994 elections, as its strength was reduced to 26 seats in an Assembly of 294 members; not even the Status of Opposition Party.
From then onwards, the division between the two families has been complete’ Kotla in the congress and KE in the TDP. In the 1999 Midterm poll to the Lok Sabha, Senior Kotla was defeated by the Junior KE. His brother Prabhakar won the Dhone Assembly against the congress nominee, a member of the Kotla family. Senior Kotla died in Sept. 2001. In 2004, though the State Congress leadership wanted to avoid Kotla family, at the intervention of the High Command, Junior Kotla became the Candidate and won the Kurnool Parliament and his wife Sujathamma, Dhone Assembly. Since the demise of the Senior Kotla, Junior Kotla has been carrying on his legacy in the District and like his father has been the unquestioned leader the Congress. He was reelected in 2009 and nominated a Minister in 2012. Since his defeat in the 2014 elections, there has been rumor of his changing the party now and then, which has been refuting vehemently.
It was a shock for many and unbelievable that, on 2nd March 2019, “Former union minister Kotla Jaya Surya Prakash Reddy along with his wife Kotla Sujathamma joined the Telugu Desam Party in presence of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu in a public meeting at Kodmuru, his home turf.” Yet and for some more time, it is indigestible for some of the Kotla followers and well-wishers.
“A three-time MP and the former union minister for railways under the UPA II tenure, Surya Prakash Reddy, is expected to sever ties with the Congress, ending its six decades of family association with the national party. In one of his first statements after joining TDP, Surya Prakash Reddy said, ‘Kurnool district is facing a severe water problem on the irrigation front and the Chief Minister promised to resolve it. Naidu has been implementing many schemes for the welfare of the farmers.”
Is it an admission that the Kotla family has not rendered justice to the people who bestowed confidence in them for the last more than six decades? Reading between the lines, development works are undertaken only at the behest of the Ruling Party leaders and their Constituencies. It is a bad precedent in a democracy. It is neither value-based, nor need-based politics, but only ‘Vote and Election based politics.’
Junior Kotla starved of powers for nearly five years, jumped the fence only, expecting not only a ticket to contest the elections, but to win and if the Mahaghatbandhan manages to form the Govt, probably a cabinet berth also. His father Late Senior Kotla, out of his active political career spanning from 1955 – to 2001, was in power for hardly half of it. Yet held sway over the District. He was opposed by his rivals, but no hatred. He possessed comparatively a clean image in politics. He never let down his followers. Even being out of power he did contribute his little bit for the development of the Dist.
Over and above all, will this reunion of the Kotla and K.E family will be lasting and will it percolate down to the grass route level? Will the enmity and hatred, nurtured to be eliminated and friendship be cemented? Will the magic wand of Chandrababu create miracles? Wait and watch!
History records, historic defections, and conversions. When it is was sounded to attend a meeting to be addressed by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, in 1915 Vallabhai Patel, the dapper, westernized sardonic, chain-smoking lawyer, playing bridge at a Club in Ahmadabad, remarked: “Who wants to listen to speeches? Let us have another round.” On another occasion, in 1916 he discouraged G.V.Mavalankar (who later became the Speaker of the Central Assembly and the Fists Lok Sabha) from going to a meeting, addressed by Gandhi and was very skeptical and critical about Gandhi’s ideas and plans. Patel was brutally blunt in expressing his dissenting view about Gandhi. Again, on another occasion in 1916, somebody invited him to listen to Gandhi talk about National School. Patel continued his game remarking: ” I have been told that he comes from South Africa, Honestly, I think he is a crank and, as you know, I have no use for such people. We have already too many Mahatmas” (Quote from Rajmohan Gandhi in”GANDHI AT FIRST SIGHT” by Thomas Weber). In another 15 years, by 1931 succeeding in Jawarharlal Nehru, he rose to become the President of the Karachi Session of the AICC.
A herd of front-ranking leaders in the Congress switched over to the opposition when Independence was a forgone conclusion; radicals to the Communism and Congress Socialists to the Socialism. Shunning, rejecting, and resigning power and position, the process continued for more than a decade, even after independence. Some formed their own parties. Some remained independent. And yet some gave up public/ political life. They either engaged themselves in constructive work or led a secluded life. It was termed ‘Change of Heart.’ Space and time is not sufficient to sight the examples.
Yet one notable case study needs mentioning. Nehru publicly acknowledged Jayaprakash.Narayan, thirteen years younger to him as his successor. Jayaprakash gave up politics and joined the Sarvodaya Movement of Vinoba Bhave. If Jayaprakash were to accept power as desired by Nehru, Nehru would have retired earlier form Politics and there would have been no hereditary politics in India. Jayaprakash reentered active politics, in 1970’s only to oppose the dictatorial politics of Indira Gandhi, with the Slogan: “Total revolution.” He and Kripalani shunned power when under their leadership Congress and Indira Gandhi were routed in 1977.
Without an exception the present changeovers, just as you change the clothes cannot be termed “Switching over Loyalty.” It is sad that none has any loyalty or commitment, either to the principles or the programme. It is searching, rather grabbing power and position; pure and simple. Changing, without an exception is either at the offer of a ticket or after the rejection of a ticket to contest the elections; often the offer or rejection Ministerial berths or equal positions.
Those were the days, when the leaders were heard with respect and regard. Any public meeting, addressed by any leader used to be arranged only during the evening hours; enabling the people to attend them after the day’s labour. People used to travel miles either by walk or bullock cart to hear them. Leaders were also traveling in buses and trains. Before every meeting they were preparing notes, as though, they were appearing for an examination. Members of the Assembly and Parliament used to burn midnight in Libraries before rising to speak. In fact every public meeting was an examination and the Legislatures were ‘Torture Chambers’ for the members. I leave it to the imagination of the reader about the concept of the membership in any representative body.