Telangana : It’s like a mini version of Jules Verne’s story of Around the World in 80 Days. The story of P V Rangayya Naidu’s transformation from a Police Officer to a politician, an MP and a Union Minister in 1991 in just 60 days is bordering on fiction in Indian electoral history.
For all that we know he is perhaps the less known P V in the union cabinet of the P V Narasimha Rao’s ‘game changing, economic reforms team’ of 1991-96. A still lesser known fact is that along with P V, the Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, P V Rangayya Naidu is the only other minister to have served the full 5-year term in three different ministerial roles.
So, when the nonagenarian, released his autobiography titled A Youth Quest-Elite Force to National Politics, it raised expectations of some insights into the turbulent political and economic situation of the 1990s. However, Palacholla Venkata Rangayya Naidu has steered clear of the controversies, political machinations and Delhi Durbar of those times.
Instead, he chose to weave together his life story from his humble beginnings in Duddivari Agraharam in Amalapuram to becoming the first IPS officer from East Godavari district in 1955 to his service in various roles to the dramatic entry into politics and work as minister for Communications, Power and Water Resources in the Narasimha Rao government. One of his most important contributions as a minister is considered to be making the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) mandatory for all major projects.
However, towards the end of the 365 page book with 52 chapters, Rangayya Naidu decided to delve deep into money power, politics and the election process. He has taken a deep look, drew from experience, relied on past reforms, especially the one’s during the term of T N Seshan as the Chief Election Commissioner and come up with a set of reforms to reduce corruption and make Indian democracy a bit more vibrant.
Among the 10 suggestions, he feels voting should be made compulsory, elections should be State funded, PM and CM of states should be elected directly by voters, simultaneous state and national elections, election expenses only through electronic payment, biometric identification of voters, transparency in the sources of funding of political parties etc.
Finally, he thinks there should be only the name of the Party on the ballot paper and not candidate, as in the case of the proportional representation system. The MPs and MLAs can be selected by the political party based on the percentage of votes obtained by it.
From IPS to Minister & Rajiv Gandhi’s prophetic words
In May 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was on a campaign in the Khammam Lok Sabha constituency, where Rangayya Naidu was an outsider, greenhorn, Cong (I) candidate. After the whirlwind trip Gandhi boarded the aircraft. However, within minutes he disembarked, walked towards the waiting state leaders, came directly to me, looked straight at me, shook my hand firmly and uttered “Mr Naidu, you are winning! Please come to Delhi soon. All the VIPs gathered were stunned at this sudden gesture by Rajiv.” It turned prophetic, recalled Rangayya Naidu in the book. Though sadly, Rajiv himself was assassinated on May 21 that year.
Though, Naidu rendered his services to the IPS and administration well, what separated him from the rest was his early realisation that to serve the nation, he had to enter politics, which he did, says M K Narayanan, former governor of WB, National Security Advisor and also IPS batch mate of Rangayya Naidu in his foreword to the book. Interestingly, industrialist-cum-politician, T Subbarami Reddy claimed that it was he who pushed Naidu to fast track entry into politics by taking him to Rajiv Gandhi at the launch function of the book at the MCR HRD Institute on Monday. Both have a running friendship of 60 years.
The Director General of Police, Telangana State, M Mahender Reddy released the autobiography at the function attended by many bureaucrats, including P S Rammohan Rao, Roddam Prabhakar Rao, H J Dora, M V Bhaskara Rao, Anjaneya Reddy, M V Krishna Rao, M Gopalakrishna, MVG Bhanu etc.
Rangayya Naidu is the tenth child of his parents and born on April 6, 1933. Having studied up to Class XII in Telugu medium, he joined B A in the Andhra University and turned into an all rounder with literary activities and NCC training, which was introduced for the first time in India in 1950. In 1953, he joined the Delhi School of Economics with the intent of cracking the Civil Services exam. The very next year in the first attempt he qualified for the IPS, though missing the IAS narrowly. Thus, at a very young age of 21 began his career as a Police officer.
His first major posting was in Narsapur as the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) in 1957. Incidentally, the same year, he was married to Sita Maha Lakshmi, who came from a rich and influential family of Kakinada. In a career spanning 36 years, Rangayya Naidu rose to the rank of a DGP and Principal Secretary (Home) in united AP (1988-91) till he took Voluntary Retirement in April, 1991 and jumped into politics.
Interestingly, all three of his sons-in-law are All India Services officers—K V Rao and M V G Bhanu (both IAS) and M V Krishna Rao (IPS). Post his political tenure, Rangayya Naidu set up the Lakshmi Rangayya Naidu Charitable Trust and has been involved in various social service activities and run by his son, P V Sitarama Swami Naidu.
Rangayya Naidu utilised the pandemic period to revisit his life. In penning the story, he was assisted by his grandson, Ven Maddala, an entrepreneur, who painstakingly took down the dictations spread over two years to piece together the highly informative autobiographical work, which is replete with anecdotes and incidents and also has many momentous pictures in his life’s journey.