Vice President Naidu pays tributes to former Andhra Pradesh chief minister late N T Rama Rao

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New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday paid tributes to former Andhra Pradesh chief minister late N T Rama Rao, saying the actor-politician was a phenomenon who strode the political stage like a colossus.

Releasing a book, 'Maverick Messiah', a political biography, authored by journalist Ramesh Kandula in Hyderabad, the vice president said the political landscape underwent a profound change after NTR's arrival on the scene.

'Power, in NTR's case, was truly drawn from the people,' he noted.

According to an official statement, Naidu said NTR ranked among the top pioneers of 'alternative politics'.

His entry into politics and his 'dramatic' success within about nine months of floating a regional party gave a new direction to national politics, he said.

NTR's sub-nationalism was constructive and his brand of regionalism celebrated the pluralistic idea of India. His fight for strengthening the federal character of the Constitution and the emphasis he laid on the welfare role of the government remains relevant in today's India when regional aspirations are on the rise, the vice president observed.

Naidu said NTR emerged as an effective defender of federalism and regional aspirations given the dent they suffered under single party dominance in the country for a long period.

'He was making a point and a case for a proper balance between the powers of the states and the Centre,' the vice president said.

NTR's contribution to the Opposition unity at the national level was a pioneering effort, Naidu noted.

In this context, the vice president said a healthy, sound and constructive opposition in a democracy would be relevant at all times.

Pointing out that NTR had pioneered radical and far-reaching legislative and administrative initiatives, Naidu said his first legislative initiative was the Upa-Lok Pal Act, demonstrating his keenness to end corruption that was eating into the vitals of the society and state.

'He empowered women with property rights and political representation and introduced reservations for backward classes in zila parishads. His Rs two a-kilo rice turned out to be the front-runner in welfarism,' he added.

The vice president, however, cautioned that the thrust of welfarism should be to economically empower people rather than merely focusing on only populist schemes.

Observing that as an actor, NTR was a legend, he said, 'It is universally acknowledged that no other film actor could essay a role from our Puranas — as varying as those of Lord Rama, Lord Krishna, Arjuna, Karna, Duryodhana or Ravana, for example, with the grace, ease, felicity and depth that NTR could lend to the performance.' Recalling his own election to the state assembly from Udayagiri in 1983, Naidu said he was one of the few candidates who could withstand the TDP tsunami led by NTR. PTI NAB IJT