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Firebrand Renuka may have a smooth sailing

In the last five years Renuka has come close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and is presently one of the key leaders of the party from the state.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2004 17:11 IST
From Indo-Asian News Service
From Indo-Asian News Service
PTI
Hindustantimes

She is bold, courageous, outspoken and cares for nobody. Her fiery remarks against her own leaders and rivals have won her the title of a firebrand.

Meet Renuka Chowdary, one of the key candidates of Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh.

She once shocked everyone by saying that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu looks like a pickpocket standing at a bus stand and described film star-turned-politician Jayaprada as a 'bimbo'.

She once dared policemen to arrest her and has waged war against the media.

Renuka, 50, daughter of an Indian Air Force officer, is as bold as a military man. Telugu Desam Party (TDP) founder and former chief minister N T Rama Rao, widely known as NTR, once described her as the "only man in TDP".

'Rani Rudramma Devi', 'Revolver Rani' and 'Rajni of Rajya Sabha' are titles that the people of Andhra Pradesh have bestowed on her.

On many occasions she has had tiffs with policemen. It was due to her 'devil-may-care' attitude that she was expelled twice from the TDP.

Born at Visakhapatnam in 1954 into the family of an air commander, she got the opportunity to live in different parts of the country, learn different languages and understand different cultures.

She did her schooling in Punjab, passed Class 10 in New Delhi, and went on to study further in Chennai and Bangalore.

She also holds a diploma in marketing management, public relations and advertising. At the age of 21 she married Sridhar Chowdary, a businessman from Hyderabad. The couple has two daughters.

Renuka began her political career as a corporator at Banjara Hills, the posh area of Hyderabad. She joined the TDP in 1984 and was a Rajya Sabha member for two terms - 1984-89 and 1992-98.

From 1997 to 1998 she was minister for health and family welfare in the I K Gujral government.

In 1993 she contested a by-election from the Panyam assembly constituency when Congress leader and chief minister Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy contested to fulfil the constitutional obligation. She could not succeed here.

In 1994, she developed differences with NTR. When she campaigned against NTR in his Hindupur constituency, he expelled her from the party and even wrote to the Rajya Sabha chairman, asking him to suspend her.

From her expulsion to the end of the term, she remained a member of separate party TDP-2, formed by her.

After NTR's death in 1996, Renuka returned to the TDP and went on to serve as a minister in the Gujral government.

When she was denied a third term in the Rajya Sabha in 1998 and film-star turned politician Jayaprada was nominated in her place, she turned her ire on Chandrababu Naidu and questioned his decision to join hands with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Naidu expelled her from the TDP on charges of indiscipline.

She then joined the Congress party and contested from the Khammam Lok Sabha constituency in 1999. She was one among only five Congress candidates elected to the Lok Sabha.

She won from Khammam despite a three-cornered contest, but this time with both the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India-Marxist extending their support, she is set to have a smooth sailing.

In the last five years Renuka has come close to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and is presently one of the key leaders of the party from the state. With a good command over different languages and a deep knowledge of a variety of issues, she is considered an asset for the Congress.

A Congress leader close to her said if the party came to power in New Delhi, she would play a key role in national politics.