Burgula Ramakrishna Rao – Freedom Fighter & Social Reformer of Telangana
Burgula Ramakrishna Rao, the first elected chief minister of the Independent State of Hyderabad, was born in 1899 in Padakallu village of Mahbubnagar district. Born in a Telugu Brahmin family he became famous by his village name Burgula. His surname ‘Pullamraju’ got changed to Burgula.
Having completed his degree in law from Bombay University in 1913, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao started his career as a lawyer and became quite a name in the legal field. Burgula gradually shifted to politics when he saw the oppressive rule of the Nizam wreak havoc in the lives of the people. His move to demand an independent state of Hyderabad was primarily inspired by his earlier brush with the Indian struggle for Independence. He participated in the Quit India movement in 1942 and was also imprisoned by the Nizam’s police for his allegiance to the freedom struggle in 1947.
When Hyderabad attained independence from the Nizam’s rule and was subsequently merged with the Indian Union in 1948, Burgula held the first official rank as a minister of Revenue and Education in the Vellodi cabinet. Finally in the 1952 elections, Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was elected from the Shadnagar constituency as the first chief minister of the state of Hyderabad.
Burgula Ramakrishna Rao had a successful stint as a Chief Minister and remained in office for 5 years till Hyderabad was trifurcated and Telangana merged with Andhra to form Andhra Pradesh. His governance was marked with several significant developmental changes. Some of these include the historic land reforms, Hyderabad Tenancy and Agricultural Act of 1950 and the Hyderabad Tenancy and Agricultural lands (Amendment) Act of 1954. Each of these acts was a landmark in the history of land reforms in the country. Dr. Rao’s astute administrative skills and his holistic understanding of the entire scenario helped him craft the conceptual framework for these acts. He did not leave it at that. It was Dr. Rao’s persistent perseverance to see it go through the bureaucratic chambers of approval and finally perceive its implantation that made it become a reality. This has helped him earn the love and respect of thousands of landowners to whom the gift of tenancy rights was a long awaited dream come true.
Burgula Ramakrishna Rao held several other important government positions in his political career. From November 1956 to July 1960, Dr. Rao occupied the position as the Governor of Kerala. This was followed by his office as the Governor of Uttar Pradesh which he held till April 1962.
His deep insights on the social scenario which led to the political changes in the state indicate his astuteness and logical reasoning capacity. His thoughts on the merger of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are revealed in a letter to U.N Dhebar the president of the Indian National Congress. The letter displays in details his thoughts and appropriate assessment of the situation in Telangana. In the letter he firmly explains that the merger if forcefully imposed on the people of Telangana is sure to have adverse repercussions in subsequent years. It displays his foresight in apprehending the situation.
Burgula Ramakrishna Rao died on September 14, 1967. His birth centenary was celebrated with great reverence by the government of Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Rao’s biography was also released in 1999 in the Raj Bhavan in Hyderabad by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee the then Prime Minister of India.
Dr. Rao was like a colossus straddling over his time. His greatness lies in his direct approach to events and happenings of his time. He did not remain content with having a vision but also believed in seeing the implementation of his thoughts. An administrator with a will to perform ensures that he defines the path to success. Dr. Burgula Ramakrishna Rao was one such individual.