No politician like Prakasam now
As independent India looks back @ 70, Vinodarayunipalem in Prakasam district, has every reason to be proud since it is the birthplace of ‘Andhra Kesari’ Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, who, 60 years after shedding the moral coil, continues to inspire as the bravest son of the soil.
Ongole: As independent India looks back @ 70, Vinodarayunipalem in Prakasam district, has every reason to be proud since it is the birthplace of ‘Andhra Kesari’ Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, who, 60 years after shedding the moral coil, continues to inspire as the bravest son of the soil. The villagers, who consider everything they have today as ‘gift’ of the bravest man of Andhra, aver there is no politician like Prakasam Pantulu now.
Tanguturi Prakasam was born in Vinodarayunipalem, a village in Naguluppalapadu mandal of the present Prakasam district, on August 23, 1872. He completed schooling in Ongole and Rajahmundry and thereafter became a pleader in the Madras High Court. He became the Municipal Chairman of Rajahmundry when he was just 31 years and later went to England for doing barrister course.
After a successful stint as lawyer, he owned many properties to become one of the richest persons in the erstwhile state, but thereafter chose to spend every paisa of it for the public good as a freedom-fighter. He earned the sobriquet Andha Kesari for baring his chest to the rifle of British force when the Simon Commission was touring Madras. He was the general secretary of the Indian National Congress party and was later associated with the Swatantra Party founded by C Rajagopalachari.
Prakasam Pantulu became the Chief Minister of the erstwhile Andhra State on October 1, 1953. He moved to Kurnool with empty hands. Undeterred, Prakasam announced that the Assembly sessions would be conducted in the open, while the Secretariat would function from makeshift tents. In the same breadth, he got a building ready for the Secretariat within a short period. It is now housing the Kurnool Medical College and Teaching Hospital.
In 1954, he ordered reconstruction of the Buckle Dam, which had been washed away in the 1951 floods. The State government renamed it as Prakasam Barrage in 1957 at the time of its reopening. In 1954, he founded the SV University, after allocating 2,000 acres of land and Rs. 10 lakhs in cash from TTD.
Regardless of his preoccupation and the positions he held in society, Prakasam Pantulu never missed visiting Vinodarayunipalem regularly. He knew each and every one of the villagers, having shared a unique bond with all of them. Now, only a few of those fortunate people who had mingled with Prakasam Pantulu are left in the village to share their memories with him.
Battapoyina Subbarao, aged about 80 years, shared memories of his association with Prakasam Pantulu. “When we were teenagers, Prakasam Pantulu used to visit us regularly. He knew every one of the villagers and inquired about their well-being. After entering politics, Pantulu spent every paisa for the public good and freedom movement. By the time he died, he didn’t have a rupee for himself.
I am happy that my family provided him lunch once. We cannot see such a down-to-earth person who worked as a chief minister, but loved eating Varigannam and Gongura pachadi offered by a common man.” Katragadda Narayana, aged 75 years, said, “We live in the house in front of his house. We remember that when he was contesting the 1955 elections, his car stopped midway in the village due to exhaustion of fuel.
Madala Narayana Swamy, contesting from the same Ongole constituency, was then returning to the village after campaigning. He saw Prakasam Pantulu waiting in the car and make enquiries. When Prakasam Pantulu told quite matter-of-factly that he did not have a rupee in his pocket to put fuel in the car, Narayana Swamy offered his own money to Prakasam Pantulu and asked him to rush for the campaign since it was the last day.
Narayana Swamy then told Pantulu that they both were contesting elections for serving the public; and, whoever be the winner, it would not make any difference. We cannot see such leaders nowadays.”
After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the State government announced Prakasam Pantulu birth anniversary celebration as a government event. On Wednesday, Ministers Siddha Raghava Rao and P Narayana as well as communications advisor to Government of Andhra Pradesh Parakala Prabhakar will attend the 146th birth anniversary celebrations of Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu at Ongole and Vinodarayunipalem.