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Burgula: statesman and versatile administrator

Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, whose 104th birth anniversary is being celebrated on March 13, 2003, was the first elected Chief Minister of the erstwhile Hyderabad State and a great stalwart who led the struggle against the Nizam in the erstwhile princely State. He was born on March 13, 1899, in Padakallu village, Kalwakurthi taluk, Mahabubnagar district. His surname was "Pullamraju'' and after some time he was known by his village name "Burgula.''

Educated at the Dharmavanth and Excelsior High School, Hyderabad, he took his B.A. (Hons) degree from Fergusson College, Pune and law from Bombay University in 1923. He started his career as a lawyer in Hyderabad and made a great name at the bar as a legal luminary.

As a freedom fighter later, joining the national movement, Dr. Rao led the historic struggle against the Nizam for the merger of Hyderabad State with the Indian Union along with Swami Ramananda Teertha and other leaders. He was one of the founder members of the Hyderabad State Congress. He presided over the third Andhra Mahasabha conference at Devarkonda in 1913 and was responsible for creating an awakening among the people of Telangana for their rights, and promoting the library movement in the State.

Due to his prominent role in the `Quit India Movement' in 1942 and again for his participation in the freedom struggle in 1947, he was arrested by the Nizam's police. K.M. Munshi, the then Agent of India in Hyderabad State, spoke of his great contribution to the timely `Police Action' by India against the Nizam who ultimately surrendered to the Indian forces on September 17, 1948. After the merger of Hyderabad State with the Indian Union in 1948, he joined the Vellodi Cabinet as Revenue and Education Minister.

In the first general elections held in Hyderabad State in 1952, Dr. Rao was elected from Shadnagar constituency and later took over the reigns of the State as the Chief Minister.

He was the first and the last Chief Minister of the former Hyderabad State and it is a historic fact that after two and a half centuries of Asaf Jahi rule of Hyderabad State, a Telugu man became the Chief Minister and ran a popular administration of the State for almost five years till the State was trifurcated and Telangana merged with Andhra to become Andhra Pradesh.

He took several significant steps for the welfare of the people, including the historic `land reforms' in the State. The passage and implementation of the famous Hyderabad Tenancy and Agricultural Act of 1950, followed in 1954 by Hyderabad Tenancy and Agricultural lands (Amendment) Act, was an important signpost of land reforms in the country. Dr. Rao not only provided the conceptual framework for these Acts but also piloted their passage and vigorously pushed through their implementation, providing tenancy rights to those who had been cultivating lands for some time.

Dr. Ramakrishna Rao's contribution to the formation of Andhra Pradesh was immense and in fact he was the architect of the State. As a seasoned politician and statesman, who could foresee the shape of things to come and feel the pulse of the people and the need for an integrated State of Telugu-speaking people, he put his weight as the elected Chief Minister of the State in favour of Visalandhra, which helped the formation of a united Andhra Pradesh on November 1, 1956. Being aware that he was not to lead the new State, he exhibited great foresight, spirit of sacrifice and statesmanship in agreeing to merge Telangana with Andhra State to give birth to Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Pattabhi Seetaramiah, the then Governor of Madhya Pradesh, paid glowing tributes to his statesmanship and for taking up the cause of Visalandhra. K. M. Munshi, thus eulogises the contribution of Dr. Rao to the formation of A.P. "In 1956, Hyderabad with its predominantly Telugu-speaking population was integrated with the State of Andhra, which had been formed in 1953. Thus was born Visalandhra, thanks primary to the self-abnegation and selflessness of Dr. Ramakrishna Rao."

From November 1956 to July 1960, Dr. Ramakrishna Rao was the Governor of Kerala and subsequently Governor of Uttar Pradesh till April 1962. He was later elected to the Rajya Sabha, which he served from 1962 to 1966. He passed away on September 14, 1967.

Birth centenary celebrations

The birth centenary celebrations of Dr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao were held under the auspices of the Government of A.P. from 13-3-99 to 13-3-2000. The AP Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, inaugurated the centenary celebrations and a commemoration stamp of this great leader was released by the Department of Posts, Government of India, on 13-3-2000. The Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, released the biography of this great leader on August 31, 1999, at the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad.

Dr. Burgula's versatility was truly amazing and he stood like a colossus among the leaders of those times and carved out a niche for himself as a multi-faceted personality.

— By B. Babu Rao Varma, Chairman, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao Birthday Celebrations Committee and Foundation

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