A lot has happened in India during this year’s Valentine’s season.
Priya Prakash Varrier gained overnight fame. We had a record-breaking export of Indian roses to several countries, and of course the same old vandalism and moral policing from the fringe groups.
Amidst all of this, some people did manage to celebrate the crazy little thing called ‘love’, remembering all those special ones and special memories.
Personally, I don’t give much importance to this day. Perhaps I am not that romantic. But the ambience does make me look back and appreciate the people and places that have made me what I am. And one of such close to heart places is a little-known town called ‘Udayagiri’ in Andhra Pradesh, which is my hometown. I had a lot of lovely memories tied to this place.
And this nostalgia makes me wonder what our Indian Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu must be thinking about this place. After all, this is the place where it all started for him. This is the place which nurtured the leadership qualities in him.
This is the place which truly and unconditionally loved him.
But with the recent happenings around Andhra Pradesh special status, I am confused if Venkaiah still has love for this place?
You can judge the significance of any place just by gazing at its wiki page. Yes, this little town Udayagiri, has its own little wiki page.
It was a place of immense importance in every prominent kingdom that shaped the history of Andhra Pradesh.
Once the capital of Langula Gajapati kingdom it then became an important military hub in the empires of Vijayanagara and Golkonda.
You will be surprised to know that its legacy is even documented in prestigious ‘Imperial Gazetteer of India’ by William Wilson Hunter. There are two dedicated pages in Volume 24 (Page 107 and Page 108) shedding light on the ancient history of Udayagiri.
But currently, it’s just cast in the shadow of its past glory. A godforsaken land with decreasing population and increasing development hurdles. Still struggling with age-old issues like transportation, education, and water supply.
Might you ask what went wrong? Before that, let me tell you a story.
When Venkaiah was selected as Indian Vice President, every heart in the Telugu speaking states was filled with pride.
Good old folks from Udayagiri felt that their son had concurred the Everest after a long-lasting political career which started from humble beginnings in Udayagiri.
Indeed it was a proud moment see Udayagiri’s name mentioned in his Vice Presidential candidature. Yes, this is the constituency from which he won his first ever election and became Andhra Pradesh assembly member consecutive times in 1978 and 1983.
Growing up in Udayagiri I used to hear a lot of inspiring stories about Venkaiah Naidu. Many tales of his early leadership skills as a student leader and his prominent role in the Jai Andhra Movement of 1972.
So many people had high hopes for him and Udayagiri was his stepping stone to success.
But in 1985 for some reason, Venkaiah Naidu decided to contest the Andhra Pradesh assembly elections from Atmakur Constituency but not from his foothold Udayagiri. And he lost that election by a slight margin. From then on he never contested any public election ever and restricted himself to BJP party administration activities.
Maybe he took his defeat too personally, Or maybe high ambitions made him feel like he is living in a pond and needs to escape. Whatever the reason is, the fact was that Udayagiri and Andhra Pradesh were clearly ruled out from highest of his priorities.
Like any other complicated relationship, he just moved on.
But still, all the Telugu people kept their hopes on him. Especially when he became Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s cabinet in the year 2000. We had obvious expectation from him. He did come up with some reforms like ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’, but there was nothing special done for Andhra Pradesh. And again in the year 2014 when he became Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs the same story of negligence repeated.
We know for sure that he still remembers his roots when he announced his happiness after Udayagiri wooden cutlery got the Geographical Identification tag in 2017.
But whether he still loves us, We don’t really know.
The biggest disappointment of Telugu people’s hope was regarding the ‘Special Status for Andhra Pradesh’(SCS) Which would help a lot of places in Andhra Pradesh like Udayagiri.
Following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the residual state lost a large part of its revenue due to Hyderabad remaining as the capital of Telangana. And was clearly on the losing side of the bargain.
During the debate on bifurcation, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh assured that the Andhra Pradesh would be granted SCS status for a period of five years. And Venkaiah who was in the opposition at that time demanded that the status be extended to 10 years. But none of these commitments were included in the AP Reorganisation Act.
The same promise was made by BJP during the 2014 election campaign in Andhra Pradesh. Even the prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had promised that a world-class capital city would be developed which would be better than Delhi.
After the landslide victory of BJP people of Andhra Pradesh were keeping all their hopes in Venkaiah to deliver what they promised. But so far we did not get anything in return. The debates and discussions around SCS status are still going on and people are still desperately waiting.
This last year of BJP’s term may very well be the last chance for Venkaiah to connect back to his people, to push for SCS status, and to prove he did not forget the debts of the people who made him what he is today.
Mahatma Gandhi says where there is love there is life, But there is also a saying in Telugu “ఆలస్యం ఆమృతం విషం” which literally means “if you make delay even ambrosia turns into poison.” If you don’t love the people who love you and keep ignoring them, it the end, all you get is the poisonous demise of your lifelong legacy.