March 26, 2005
By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 25: Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy admitted to having smoking cigarette when he was just 11 years old. And what about his bete noire and predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu?
Unlike Rajasekhar Reddy, Chandrababu Naidu did not smoke during his school, college or university days. He also kept himself away from alcoholic drinks.
The official website of the Telugu Desam gives a vivid description of the "good habits" of the party supremo even as he was a young student leader. "Smoke?", asked a college gang. "I don't!", Babu replied and the gangsters laughed. The gang asked again, "Sometimes drink?" "Never", said Babu. They laughed again.
"But Babu knew... all great men were initially laughed at. The gang members did not ask any more questions. They knew Babu was different", the TD website points out.
"Whenever people asked young Babu, "What pleasure do you have in life?" he used to reply, "My vision is my only pleasure", his dreamy eyes already seeing the building of international cities all over the map of Andhra Pradesh. Such was the life of Chandrababu at Sri Venkateswara Arts College, Tirupati".
Young Babu would visit the Holy Shrine of Lord Venkateswara sometimes, in moment of loneliness, and his resolve would strengthen further.
"God, don't give me money... only the strength to create wealth for all... for every person in my State, and my country", Babu would ask. A smiling God might have granted the wish... but he still knew he had to work at it.
And what about Babu's vision on Naxalism when he was still in college? The website tells us this way: "The way to power is through the gun," some equally dreamy youth would tell him. He might have admired the passion of the comrades, but he knew their method was wrong, and could fetch no positive results".
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