Sunday, December 1, 2013
Marri Channa Reddy Unique Administrator: Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
17th Death Anniversary of Dr MCR is on 2nd December 2013
Marri Channa Reddy Unique Administrator
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao
(PRO to CM Channa Reddy during 1989-90)
“National Information Services”, a bilingual news and feature agency, based at Hyderabad, organized a seminar on June 3, 1989, on “Jawhar Rozgar - Panchayat Raj – Strengthening grassroots democracy”. Dr. Marri Channa Reddy as APCC-I President, while presiding over the seminar had thrown a challenge to the then NTR government and said: “Let us build up a strategy where every member of a family in the state can be uplifted in a manner that he or she can stand on their own feet and do away with the begging bowls. It is self-respect. Panchayat Raj alone can do this. It is a challenge from our own party and we take it up in the coming elections and ask the people whether this is good or begging is good. We shall face the people on this issue”. Dr Reddy was referring to the Rupees two a kilogram rice scheme. As challenged by him, they went to the polls in November-December, 1989, and under his leadership the Congress won a majority of seats and returned to power after a gap of seven years.
In fact, this concept of his, explicitly found place in the Congress (I) election manifesto for the 1989 assembly elections. The very first paragraph of the manifesto referred to the subsidized rice scheme and it was made very clear that the Congress will continue the rice being supplied to the vulnerable sections but would weed out bogus ration cards. He did it in fact. At the same time, the manifesto mentioned, that, the Congress party would evolve self-employment schemes, enabling the youth to stand on their own feet. This would also create self-confidence in them.
Then the Congress manifesto was drafted by a committee constituted for the purpose, but when the draft was shown to Dr. Reddy (at that time I was present there), he had not only gone through it very quickly but also made several changes instantaneously, then and there. For the draft preparation, it took almost a month but for Dr. Reddy, it took hardly 15 minutes to add 16-more points-paragraphs. Dr. Reddy was very clear in his thoughts and without even lifting the pen he went on writing the points (The handwritten manifesto by Dr. Reddy is still with me and is being kept as a souvenir).
An Agenda for the Development of Andhra Pradesh
(Book Cover Page)
Dr. Channa Reddy, who replaced N. Janardhan Reddy as APCC (I) president, had taken several measures to strengthen the party and convert it into a formidable force to face NTR in the 1989 elections. Most important among them were the “one Crore signatures from party cadre” against NTR government and mass “Jail Bharo”.
He was sworn in as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for the second time on December 3, 1989 at 12 noon, at Nizam College Grounds. Dr. Ready’s style of functioning has always been unique. He remembered everything and was always to the point in his instructions with no ambiguity. One has to understand, of course.
There was always his personal touch to all the messages, replies to letters received by him as well as several press releases emanating from the Chief Minister’s chambers. For instance, the thanksgiving letter from Dr. Reddy to hundreds of his well-wishers congratulating him on his assumption of office as Chief Minister was altogether unique in its style and content. He wrote: “It is widely known fact that I have inherited an administration which is in shambles needing urgent, painstaking and understanding attention to set it work smoothly and usefully”. Then he requested them for continuance of the same goodwill to enable him to serve the state effectively and for the good of all. It was not simply a one-line “thank you” reply as is normally done.
In another instance, when former Chief Minister of Punjab Darbara Singh died, the news of which came late in the night after I reached home, I thought, I would request for the Chief Minister’s dictation of the condolence message, since Dr. Reddy was Punjab Governor when Darbara Singh was Chief Minister. When the Chief Minister was informed of the death, he personally dictated the condolence message which again was unique in style.
Congratulating Dr. Reddy on his assumption of office as Chief Minister, the then Editor Blitz R.K. Karanjia wrote that “had Dr. Reddy continued as Governor of Punjab, the situation there would have been different”. Karanjia referred to the then prevailing violence in the State. Dr. Reddy was moved by these remarks and, with a high personal touch, thanked Karanjia. Dr. Reddy seldom read any prepared speech.
All India Radio and Doordarshan accept only a written speech to be delivered at the time of elections from political party leaders, that too only after it is submitted in advance for scrutiny. From the speech which Dr. Reddy as APCC president wanted to read out during 1989 elections, Doordarshan authorities suggested to delete one or two sentences and he was informed about this. While accepting the suggestion with humor he said (Showing his HAND) “I give you a free hand”, hand being the election symbol of the Congress. None of his extempore speeches were casual. Every speech, whatever might be the occasion highlighted his government’s policies and his earlier experiences as well as anecdotes.
On the occasion of IMA Golden Jubilee Celebrations on December 10, 1989, Dr. Reddy said that in 1952 when he was asked to chose the portfolio after he became a minister for the first time in the Boorgula Ramakrishna Rao Cabinet, he made it clear that he would accept any portfolio other than medical and health. He was given food and agriculture, which at that time with all sorts of rationing, contracts and such things was a difficult one to handle. The reason given by him for not choosing the medical portfolio was that many professors under whom he studied were still working in the department and it was not proper on his part to become a Minister in that department.
In another anecdote which he narrated on the occasion of the silver jubilee celebrations of the Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University, Dr. Reddy said that Rajendranagar, when APAU is situated was originally known as Himayath Sagar. It was changed to Rajendranagar, when Dr. Rajendra Prasad, came there as a guest to the Kidwai Cottage on the campus. Dr. Reddy sought the permission of Dr. Prasad to name it as Rajendranagar after him. This was done, as he was the first agricultural minister of free India.
Dr. Reddy chose the occasion at a function organized by Rotary Club of Hyderabad on January 25, 1990, to say that he was more a politician than a doctor. He said that he sincerely believed in politics. He narrated yet another anecdote and said that when he was asked in 1950, while travelling with a military officer, as to what his profession was, for a moment he could not reply. At that time he was a Member of Parliament and as such he was completely floored. He was not mentally prepared for that question, said Dr. Reddy.
When the coastal belt of the state was hit by a severe cyclone in May, 1990, Dr. Reddy despite the urgency for a medical check-up postponed his trip to USA. Even his family had left for the airport, but he preferred to stay back and personally supervise the cyclone relief operations. He also pointed out that the ninth Finance Commission had specifically made a recommendation that in such a grave situation, the Centre may have to take appropriate action and incur the necessary expenditure. It was he who first talked of National Calamity and said, “If this is not treated as national calamity, what else could be treated as national calamity”?
When a World Bank team visited Hyderabad at that time, he got prepared a cyclone reconstruction project report and was presented to them with a total outlay of Rs. 2,800 Crore. It was a multi-sectoral and cost effective one covering to set right the damages caused by the cyclone. The Project Report was commended by the World Bank Team Leader George Russell. Indian Administrative Services Officer C. Arjun Rao was the Commissioner for Relief and Rehabilitation at that time. Later, when Dr. Reddy went to USA, he pursued and finally obtained World Bank loan.
Till he was admitted to the hospital for a medical check-up in USA on June 7, 1990 he was totally engrossed in the work of World Bank assistance and also met the senior Vice President of the Bank Moin Qureshi. In a record time of 14 days, Qureshi sent a team of 14 eminent experts who toured the entire state, which ultimately helped in getting the loan.
Dr Reddy is remembered forever and ever for his leadership to the cause of separate Telangana state, even though, political compulsions prevailing then forced him to withdraw the agitation and accept to return back to the fold of Madam Indira Gandhi.
A book titled “An Agenda for the Development of Andhra Pradesh” with the collection of some of his best of the extempore speeches delivered while in office as Chief Minister would be released shortly. I was working as CM’s Public Relations Officer then and in that capacity I got them transliterated, edited, compiled and made in to a dummy book form. It was released in that form by Dr. Channa Reddy sometime in November 1990 and since then has been waiting for someone to print and publish.
Sri Boggarapu Sitaramaiah former MLA from Khammam District, who also championed the cause of Telangana in various forums and an ardent admirer of Dr Channareddy, volunteered on his own to print and publish the book and provide necessary funds. Thus the book is seeing the light of the day after 23 years. End