A house on the Amrutanjan premises was a key meeting point for Telugu leaders in the 1930s

The buzz now, is all about the carving of Telengana from Andhra Pradesh. A similar excitement once surrounded the creation of Andhra from the erstwhile Madras Presidency. In Mylapore, there stand two buildings that played an important role in the process.

The first is Sri Baugh, the stately garden house on Luz Church Road built in the late 19 century by Justice P.R. Sundara Iyer. By the 1930s, it had changed hands and was owned by ‘Desodhharaka’ Kasinathuni Nageswara Rao Pantulu, the founder of the Andhra Patrika publication and the pain balm – Amrutanjan.

It was at this residence and under the leadership of Nageswara Rao that a group of Telugu leaders met up on November 16, 1937 to chart an action plan for a State of their own. The emphasis was to get leaders from coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema areas to come together and demand a common State.

To appease the latter faction, it was agreed that as and when an Andhra State would be formed, its capital would be at Kurnool, the heartland of Rayalaseema.

With the Second World War and the granting of Independence thereafter, the matter was shelved but it came to the fore in 1949 and then again, in 1952.

In the general elections that year, the Congress fared badly in Madras Province as it was defeated by the Communists in most of the Telugu-speaking areas. The Governor however, invited the Congress on the basis of its being the largest party to form the government, with C. Rajagopalachari as its Chief Minister.

The non-Congress parties had banded together and elected T. Prakasam, a Telugu, as their leader. The jockeying of a Tamil into the CM’s seat was viewed with suspicion by the Telugus.

It was at this juncture that Potti Sriramulu, a Gandhian, embarked on a fast-unto-death on October 19, demanding the creation of an Andhra state.

This was at the house of Telugu leader Bulusu Sambamurthi, in a street off Royapettah High Road leading to the present-day Vidya Mandir School. The matter was downplayed by the Rajaji Government and on December 15, Sriramulu died. The Telugu regions erupted in violence.

A shaken Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, announced the formation of Andhra on December 19. The State came into existence, covering the coastal regions and Rayalaseema with Kurnool as capital on October 1, 1953, with Prakasam as CM. Three years later, it was merged with Hyderabad State comprising the Nizam’s dominions thereby forming Andhra Pradesh.

Sri Baugh remains a ghostly mansion on the Amrutanjan premises. The house of Bulusu Sambamurthy became a memorial to Potti Sriramulu.

A few years ago, the old tile-roofed house was demolished to make way for a multi-storeyed building. It houses an excellent Telugu library. It also has a memorial for Potti Sriramulu, the man who died in Mylapore for the creation of Andhra.


Seeing Madras in Hyderabad September 28, 2013

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