As the writing on the wall was very clear that he has become a persona non grata in the YSRCP, former minister, Dr Daggubati Venkateswara Rao, who is also the elder son-in-law of legendary actor and TDP founder NT Rama Rao, called it quits from politics.
His decision came days after Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy indicated that it would be not him but former MLA of Chirala Amanchi Krishna Mohan who would be the YSRCP candidate from Parchur in Prakasam district in the next Assembly election.
The signal was very clear as the former MLA from Chirala was appointed in charge of the Parchur constituency. He was asked to prepare the groundwork for the 2024 Assembly elections.
Venkateswara Rao contested unsuccessfully from Parchur in 2019 and has been on a sabbatical ever since.
At a family function on Monday, 16 January, at Inkollu in Bapatla district, he announced his retirement from politics., even though, at 69, he is still relatively young for Indian politics.
He said his son Hitesh Chenchuram will also stay away from politics. Venkateswara Rao’s wife, former Union minister Daggubati Purandeswari is now active in BJP.
“We are not happy with the present political system and have decided to maintain a distance from it. However, our service activities will continue,” he said at the family event that was held to mark NTR’s birth centenary.
Striking a nostalgic note, Venkateswara Rao said: “I have been active in politics from a young age. With the blessings of god, as an MLA, MP and minister, I served the people in a satisfying manner. I am fortunate enough to implement several programmes in villages, providing housing, employment and other basic amenities to the poor.”
“Defeat in the last election was an indication from the Gods that present-day politics is not for us,” he added.
Venkateswara Rao and Nara Chandrababu Naidu, sons-in-law of thespian NTR, were contemporaries in Andhra Pradesh politics. Naidu is married to Purandeswari’s sister Bhuvaneshwari.
While Naidu was successful in inheriting NTR’s political legacy and the party that was founded by the late actor, Venkateswara Rao had a chequered career in politics though he was elected MLA five times and also to the Lok Sabha once and then to Rajya Sabha once. Rao was elected to the state Assembly in 1983, 1985, 1989, 2004, and 2009.
The loss in 2019
In the 2019 polls, while his wife Purandeswari contested on a BJP ticket from Vizag Lok Sabha constituency, Venkateswara Rao contested from the Parchur Assembly segment, his family’s bastion in Prakasam district, on a YSRCP nomination.
Both Purandeswari and Venkateswara Rao lost in the elections.
Though it was his son Hitesh Chenchuram who was supposed to contest from Parchur, at the last minute Venkateswara Rao had to take his place as Hitesh is a US citizen.
After losing in 2019 polls, Venkateswara Rao has been keeping a low profile in the constituency, hinting that he had called it quits. The official announcement came two days ago at the family event.
Rivalry with Chandrababu Naidu
Venkateswara Rao has always been known as an arch-rival of Chandrababu Naidu.
In fact, both co-brothers — as men married to two sisters are referred in these parts — did not see eye to eye for years and did not interact with each other. Until 2021, when they bumped into each other at a family function — the wedding of one of NTR’s granddaughters.
They had a brief chat at the event, which became something of a discussion point in political circles as it was widely known that they were not talking terms.
Venkateswara Rao joined the TDP soon after NTR floated it in 1982. He was elected to the state Assembly the following year and was re-elected in 1985. He was also a minister in NTR’s Cabinet. He was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Bapatla constituency in 1991, also on a TDP ticket.
Venkateswara Rao sided with Chandrababu Naidu in the revolt against NTR in 1995, a few months after the TDP regained power in Andhra Pradesh, but returned to NTR’s camp a few weeks later when Naidu sidelined him.
Following NTR’s death in 1996, Venkateswara Rao and NTR’s second wife, Lakshmi Parvathi, formed the NTR TDP. However, the party could not make any impact in state politics.
In 1999, he again floated a new party called Anna TDP along with NTR’s son Nandamuri Harikrishna. This experience was also a flop, as it failed to produce results in the elections.
He also dabbled in the BJP for some time before both he and his wife joined the Congress in 2004. Purandeswari was elected to the Lok Sabha from Bapatla, while he was elected to the Assembly from Parchur. She had also served as a minister in the UPA government.
Purandeswari later joined the BJP after Andhra Pradesh was divided and ran unsuccessfully for Lok Sabha twice, but Venkateswara Rao remained out of politics until 2019.
He has kept a low profile since losing in the 2019 elections, and his announcement that he was retiring from politics was not a surprise for political watchers in the Andhra Pradesh.