Hyderabad: Rich tributes were paid to Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder NT Rama Rao on his 18th death anniversary on Saturday.
Popularly called NTR, the former Andhra Pradesh chief minister was an actor-turned-politician and one of the more popular leaders in the state`s history.
His family remained divided as it paid tributes to him at NTR Ghat on the banks of Hussain Sagar lake here.
NTR`s son-in-law and TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, second wife Lakshmi Parvathi, daughter and union minister D Purandeswari, son N Harikrishna, grandson and popular actor Junior NTR paid separate tributes.
Naidu was accompanied by his wife Bhuvaneswari and their son Lokesh. Purandeswari, a Congress party leader, was accompanied by her husband and state legislator D Venkateswar Rao.
Harikrishna even used the occasion to target his detractors within the TDP for criticising him for his resignation from the Rajya Sabha to protest the central government`s decision to bifurcate the state. "They are saying I resigned in anger. They should know that TDP was born out of people`s anger," he said.
Harikrishna, who has distanced himself from Naidu, said the state was facing bifurcation due to the absence of a leader like NTR.
"The state is facing a difficult situation as no politician has a vision like NTR who fought for self-respect, unity and development of Telugu people," he said.
Harikrishna`s son Junior NTR reiterated that he would not contest the ensuing elections but would be ready to campaign for TDP. The young actor said acting was his priority and he would not contest the coming elections. Junior NTR`s supporters had put up banners around NTR Ghat to welcome the actor.
Differences cropped up between Naidu and Harikrishna over the former`s attempts to project his son Lokesh as his successor. Harikrishna is keen to see his son taking over the reins of the party.
NTR died of cardiac arrest in January 1996, a few months after Naidu ousted him from power in view of the alleged growing interference by Lakshmi Parvathi in the party and the administration.
NTR, a popular Telugu actor, had launched TDP in 1982 on the slogan of Telugu self-respect and created a record of sorts by coming to power within nine months, ending the single party rule of the Congress.