In 1952, Harindranath won the hearts of people and got elected as the first MP in Telugu heartland.

In 1952, a Bengali ‘Babu moshai’ won the hearts of the people of Vijayawada, which was considered to the Telugu heartland’, with his oratory skill, philosophical perception and poetic touch. He not only won the hearts but was also elected as the first Member of Parliament from Vijayawada in the first general election that was held after independence in 1952.

The inference is about Harindranath Chattopadhyay, the youngest brother of The Nightingale of India Sarojini Naidu.

Now imagine the scene today. First and foremost he will be branded as an outsider and people will play the ‘Manavadu’ (community) card. In today’s caste and region polarised scenario, such a venture can only be a distant dream, said senior Journalist C. Raghavachari.

The veteran journalist further went on to add, “In those days things were different. Politics was practised on a very high intellectual plane. Politics was beyond trivial issues such as caste, creed, religion and family.”

Former two-time MP and daughter of nationalist Goparaju Ramachandra Rao (Gora) Chennupati Vidya noted, both things and people were different. “The politicians were stalwarts in their own rights. Harindranath defeated Rajyam Sinha, wife of Benoy Kumar Sinha, a colleague of Bhagat Singh, and she had her own standing. Money and muscle power were unheard of. Politics was played over intellectual debates and discussions. There were no mud-slinging, only healthy deliberations. The contestants shared a common rational platform,” she said.

No dearth of leaders

According to Ms. Vidya even the selection of the candidates by the parties was based on commitment, intellectual strength and service that they had put up. “Things such as money and caste were kept at a distance,” she pointed out.

Most importantly, socialist ideas and nationalistic fervour dominated the character of the candidates, across party line. “Irrespective of party ideology, Gandhi shared a common respect and that was the base of politics. There was no dearth of leaders as faced today, as people such as Gora, Harindranath, Kakani Venkataratnam, Kala Venkat Rao, Bhogaraju Pattabhi Sitaramayya and N. G. Ranga were part of the political fabric,” she said.

While the rural folks looked up to the leaders as grassroot workers as there was a good connect between them, the urban voters related to their intellectual abilities.

“It was not surprising that Harin (as Harindranath was fondly called) could relate to the people of Vijayawada as Bengali literature in the form of translated works of both Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Rabindranath Tagore were read widely. But today, book reading itself has taken a backseat, so where is the scope for intellectual debate,” recalled Raghavachari.

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