NTR and Lakshmi Parvathi: A dream romance that ended tragically

By Mohammed Shafeeq

Hyderabad, May 28 (IANS): The NTR story is incomplete without Lakshmi Parvathi, the second wife of the TDP founder.

All the dramatic events during the last few years of NTR revolve around her and she was blamed by his children from his first wife and other family members for whatever happened to the thespian after he led the TDP back to power with a landslide victory in 1994.

A college lecturer, who had separated from her husband, came into NTR's life when his children (seven sons and four daughters) had nearly abandoned him.

The former chief minister was a loner, having lost his first wife Basvatarakam to cancer in 1985. He was looked after by servants but he needed a partner who could take care of him in the evening of his life.

Lakshmi Parvathi, who was regularly meeting NTR to write his biography, came closer by taking care of him. She provided the much needed emotional support and he stood by her till his death.

It was in 1991 that Lakshmi Parvathi first met NTR with a request to write his biography. In an interview to IANS a few years ago, she said she used to travel from Guntur district to Hyderabad to meet him every weekend to work on his biography.

NTR was out of power at the time after serving two terms as chief minister and a brief flirtation with national politics before returning to the state.

"I used to come every Saturday and Sunday to Hyderabad. One day he suddenly asked me 'will you marry me'," she recalled, adding "I didn't know what to say because I had separated from my first husband and was living with my parents. I also had a son to look after. I sought one month's time and then agreed to marry him."

NTR was then 70 while Lakshmi Parvathi was almost half his age. They married secretly in 1992 and it was in 1993 that NTR publicly announced it at a film event in Tirupati.

However, Lakshmi Parvathi recalls that NTR was her dream hero and her first love when he was ruling the Telugu silver screen and she was a 16-year-old college girl. She penned a poem in 1980 describing him as a star in the sky who remains out of reach for someone standing on earth and longing for it.

Her dream came true much later when she met him. Thus began the love story, culminating in their marriage a year later. It resulted in tragic events, the reverberations of which are being felt even today.

Lakshmi's life took a dramatic turn in 1994 as NTR led the TDP back to power with a record-breaking majority. She was hailed as 'Lucky Parvathi' who helped him regain his glory.

According to Lakshmi, they were enjoying a happy married life, but his family members became jealous of her and started their conspiracies.

NTR's son-in-law and then finance minister and TDP general secretary N. Chandrababu Naidu felt that Parvathi's interference in party affairs and administration was growing. Backed by NTR's children, he staged a coup and became the chief minister.

It was a big shock for NTR as he had never imagined that his own family members would turn against him. When MLAs backing Naidu were camping at Viceroy Hotel, he had gone there with Lakshmi Parvathi to appeal to them to come back.

The TDP patriarch, however, had to face humiliation as some of the supporters of Naidu hurled chappals at his vehicle and showered abuses on Lakshmi Parvathi.

NTR was heartbroken. The party he had built with the hard work of several years and the power he had regained with his charisma had slipped away. Calling Naidu a backstabber, NTR vowed to unmask him by planning a campaign with the title ‘Lion's roar'.

Those days NTR used to address a news conference at his house in Banjara Hills every day. "He used to call Parvathi to come and sit beside him before starting the press conference," said a senior journalist who was a regular at NTR's press conferences.

NTR, who was planning a campaign to hit back at those who betrayed him, had also addressed a press conference on January 17, 1995. The next day, people woke up to the shocking news that he had died of cardiac arrest.

"They did not allow us to live peacefully and the backstabbing by NTR's own family members shocked and claimed his life. It was a planned murder," said Lakshmi Parvathi.

NTR's family members especially his son N. Harikrishna blamed her for his death. He alleged that she was giving him steroids to have a child with him. She rubbished the allegations.

Lakshmi Parvathi laments that she met her 'god' very late and got very little time to spend with him.

"All I have today is his memories, his portraits and busts, one of which is in my pooja room. I still worship him," she said.

After NTR's death Lakshmi Parvathi tried to own his political legacy by floating NTR TDP (LP) with a few loyalists. Though she won a by-election from Pathapatnam to become a member of the Assembly, the party did not last long. After a series of electoral defeats she went into political oblivion.

With the wish to see the political downfall of Naidu, the man she holds responsible for the untimely death of NTR, she joined the YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) in 2012 but remained inactive.

After the YSRCP came to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2019, ending the TDP rule, Lakshmi Parvathi was rewarded with the post of chairperson of the Andhra Pradesh Telugu Academy.



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