Prominent Gandhian, freedom fighter and educationist par excellence and former Minister Chintalapati Varaprasada Murthy Raju passed away at his residence in Fathepuram in Nidamarru mandal in West Godavari district on Sunday. He was 93. He had been seriously ill for six months till his death. His wife and only son expired long back.
His life is a stellar example of how a true Gandhian would lead his life, spurning all worldly pleasures and giving away all that he owned to the society at large.
The very name of CHVP Murthy Raju evokes deep respect among his scores of followers across the country. A committed Gandhian, he dedicated his entire life and wealth to the service of society. He served as an MLA for six times during 1953-82 and even served as State Minister of Endowments and Marketing for 15 months during the Chief Ministership of P V Narasimha Rao. In his life, he was elected as Panchayat President six times.
Inspired by Gandhiji, Murthy Raju gave away 1,800 acres and huge money for the cause of society and set up as many as 68 educational institutes with emphasis on girl education. He handed over their ownership to the State Government in 1977. His dream was to establish one university in each district of Andhra Pradesh.When he expired, he did not have a single acre of land with him.
Gandhi Bhavan that resembles Parliament
A committed Gandhian that he was, he built a huge memorial for Gandhiji – Gandhi Bhavan – at Peda Nidrakolanu village near his native Pattepuram village. Gandhi Bhavan looks like Parliament Bhavan from outside. Murthy Raju spent about Rs 1 crore of his money to complete this monument. It was converted into a museum dedicated to the memory of Mahatma Gandhi with various photographs depicting his life and achievements. Besides Gandhiji’s pictures and freedom movement collections, the Bhavan also houses a huge number of photographs and books and information on several leading lights of the society as well as the country.
Even at the age of 92, Murthy Raju immensely longed to see a huge bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi at 125 feet height and submitted a plea to the State Government. In 1961, he conducted Sarvodaya Sammelan at Unguturu. A pylon stands as a testimony to this great event near Naachugunta village where Jayaprakash Narayan and Vinobha Bhavee spoke. A multi-faceted personality, Murthy Raju virtually commanded the political arena of West Godavari district for more than three decades till 1983.
A kingpin in ’70s
Raju joined Indira Congress when the party witnessed a split in the post-emergency era. He steered the party to success. He got elected from Tadepalligudem in 1978. He introduced several new faces to politics. Indira Congress won all the 16 Assembly seats from West Godavari district.
A journalist to the core
Murthy Raju floated an education monthly named Vidhya Jothi which had a wide circulation. It was a multi-lingual, published in Telugu, Hindi, English and Sanskrit. During the Bhoodan movement, he took upon himself the task of editing Sarvodaya monthly.
Passion for Sanskrit
Murthy Raju promoted Sanskrit language all through his life. It was a compulsory subject at the institutes established by him.
Man of simplicity
Murthy Raju never craved for fame by any means. He named all his high schools and colleges after great leaders national and international. One of his schools at Parimella near Pentapadu was named after Fedric Lumamba and another school at Kasipadu was named after Kennedy. The colleges carried the names of Raja Ramamohan Roy, VV Giri and so on. Murty Raju subscribed to the ideals of Jaya Prakash Narayana’s total revolution.
He conducted padayaatras to popularise the concept during 1973-74. Despite being a Minister, Murthy Raju would not sit in chairs or on sofas. Atheist leader Lavanam who worked with Murthy Raju on various issues said that it was an irreparable loss to the Gandhian movement in the country. He said that he had the honour of arranged the tour of Vinoba Bhave during Bhoodan movement in West Godavari district.