A Tribute to Dr Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramaiah

( Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura )

 

Three pillars of the National Movement in Andhra Desa (as the Telugu speaking region of the Composite Madras State was known) Andhra Kesari Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu (23 August 1872 – 20 May 1957) , Dr. Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitharamayya (24 November 1880 – 17 December 1959) and Prof. Nidubrolu Gogineni Ranganayakulu (7 November 1900 – 9 June 1995), known respectively as Prakasam, Pattabhi and Ranga had sacrificed their lucrative professional careers; Barrister, Doctor and Academician, respectively.

Embodiment of Nationalism and multifaceted personalities, as they were, unfortunately each other did not see eye to eye. However though they pulled each other, from scaling the higher, bore no personal animosity and a step further respected each other. Born in utter penury, the History of Modern Andhra Pradesh is incomplete without the Trinity.

Born in Gundugolanu village, Krishna District (now part of West Godavari district), Pattabhi had rarely two square meals a day and wore less than half naked apparel during his school days in Machilipatnam. Graduated from the prestigious Madras Christian College, at an expense of Rs.10-8.00 (Ten rupees and eight annas) per month, fulfilled his ambition to become a medical practitioner by securing an M.B.C.M. degree, before he completed the age of 22.

Starting practice as a doctor in Machilipatnam, the then political centre of Andhra, he could not resist the bubbling emotions, gave up the profession to plunge into the National Movement, even before the Gandhian Era began. Perhaps, among the Andhras he had the longest innings in jail, nearly eight years in all. Without wasting a single minute of his life in the prisons, all together he read more than a lakh pages of creative literature. A voracious reader and a prolific writer he wrote about thirty books in English and Telugu; viz. History of Indian National Congress (wrote in two months without referring to any documents or consultations, but by simply recapturing his immaculate memory and the earlier notes in his possession), Indian Nationalism, Constitution of the World, and Autobiographical Current Affairs/ Contemporary History; Questions and Answers. He did not hesitate to narrate the lessons he learnt in jail; like cutting vegetables, peeling heaps of potatoes and cooking. A Multilingual and an orator of rare ability, he was heard with pin drop silence and rapt attention in academic institutions. He sought questions from the audience and answers with effortless ease in the same language, with typical wit, humour, sarcasm, pun and relevance. My English Professor in Osmania College, Kurnool K.S.S.Sarma said: “In 1948, during the course of his address to our Students’ Union in Madras Christian College, his alma Mater, Pattabhi said; ‘While welcoming me, you referred to the deteriorating character. ‘Young friends, it is degenerating”. Refer, Wren and Martin: The present continuous tense continues. He was exhorting the students to follow the four tenets of Gandhism; Self respect, Self confidence, Self culture and Swadeshi.

 

Apart from his writings, as an institution builder, he earned a permanent place in the history of A.P. Viz. Andhra Bank, Krishna Dist Cooperative Central Bank and the Andhra Mutual Insurance Company (Nationalised and merged with Life Insurance Corporation of India). Started in 1923, with a meagre Rs.1,00,000 paid up Capital, Nationalised in 1980, Andhra Bank’s transactions are in lakhs of crores, with thousands of branches and lakhs of employees. Along with two other companion patriots, Kopella Hanumantha Rao and Matnuri Krishna Rao, he started in 1910, Andhra Jatheeya Kalasala, a Swadeshi Centre of Learning, which is now the nucleus of the Krishna University. Gandhiji visited this college on 3rd April, 1921. (Photos attached). Like many other leaders of the National Movement, he also burnt his little finger in Journalism, JANMABHOOMI in English, losing Rs.8,000/- in ten years of its life. He knocked almost every door and met every person in the whole of Krishna and neighboring Districts to mobilise funds to raise all these institutions.

Gandhian to the core, he moved shoulder to shoulder with Nehru, Sardar, Prasad and Rajaji. He spoke not only the Gandhian Language, but also practised it. He was well versed with the contemporary Political Thoughts of the world: “Communism without violence is Gandhism; Gandhism with violence is Communism.” A National Leader, a Member of the Constituent Assembly and the Rajya Sabha and a Governor, he not only did not amass wealth, but did not own a car also. “When I see my friends going in cars” he quipped “I never envy them but congratulate myself for being able to lead a simple life; free of vanity”. A Gandhian, Kodari Narayana Rao, President of the A.P.Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi told me once. In mid fifties, when B.Gopal Reddy, a prodigy of Pattabhi was the Chief Minister of Andhra State, Pattabhi, then the Governor of M.P. and Gopal Reddy were camping in Machilipatnam. Gopal Reddy ordered the P.S to get breakfast. Pattabhi opted to visit Indra Bhavan @ Manjappa Hotel. Manjappa Chadaga was hosting the freedom fighters free of cost, even personally carrying hot and fresh food and beverages to the jail; gratitude at its peak.

When his long cherished goal, Andhra State was formed on Oct.1.1953, Pattabhi’s elderly political adversary, Prakasam was elected the Chief Minister. Without a murmur, Pattabhi graced the inaugural function in Kurnool and was seated on the dias along with Pandit Nehru, Dr.Radhakrishnan, Governor and the Chief Minister. When a person was cataloguing his sacrifices, Pattabhi intervened: “I am not a Thyagaraju, but Bhogaraju; you seem to be Bhatraju; professional flatterer.”

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