C VIDYASAGAR RAO

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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.

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