C VIDYASAGAR RAO
New Delhi: Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao, who has shot to fame as ‘acting’ governor of Tamil Nadu, has been a member of the BJP during its entire duration till he was appointed to the guber natorial post. After starting as an ABVP activist, he became a Jan Sangh leader who was thrice elected to the undivided Andhra Pradesh assembly and later to the Lok Sabha. He belongs to t h e d o mi n a n t Velamma community and hails from a very influential family in K a r i mn a g a r o f n o r t h e r n Telangana. Former CPI general secretary Rajeshwar Rao and former Planning Commission member Hanumantha Rao are his brothers. As an ABVP activist, he was elected president of the Osmania University students union, where he opposed extreme Leftwing activists. BJP leaders familiar with his early life say that he survived a bid on his life by Naxalites in the early 70s but didn’t give up his commitment to saffron politics.
“He is a secondg e ner at i o n nationalist politician from undivided Andhra Pradesh and a contempor a r y o f Uni o n ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Bandaru Dattatreya,” said a senior BJP insider. During his Jan Sangh days, he practised law in Karimnagar district court and Andhra high court. He was elected state BJP president in 90s.
Rao, like most politicians from the area, espoused statehood for Telangana. He was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1998 and in 1999 and served as a minister of state for home affairs under LK Advani. “He is known as a simple and noble fellow,” said a BJP leader who knew him when he was MoS in the Vajpayee government.
Rao lost the 2004 Lok Sabha elections in Karimnagar to TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao, who became the Telangana chief minister later. He went into political oblivion thereafter and struggled to secure his party nomination to the seat in 2014 as general secretary Murlidhar Rao too was eyeing the seat. Though he managed to secure the nomination finally, he lost the polls to his nephew who contested as a TRS candidate.
“His selection as governor to politically-crucial state of Maharashtra came as a surprise to most,” conceded a BJP insider. “The Sangh and for mer president Nitin Gadkari wanted someone of his choice as Maharashtra governor and that was the reason for the sur-
As an ABVP activist, Rao was elected president of the Osmania University
prise choice,” said the insider who admitted of being clueless on the exact reasons for his selection as none could recollect any specific instances that hinted to his proximity to the current leadership. The power struggle in AIADMK, following the death of Jayalalithaa seems to have finally turned the focus on Rao as his absence from Chennai has led to speculation on the Centre’s role in TN politics. Given his steadfast commitment to the saffron ideology, the BJP is certain that he would not take a false step and hit the BJP, which is trying to gain roots in the state. He seems to be waiting for the cue from the Centre as he gets ready to play his important constitutional role.