The buzz 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.

Sri Baugh
Sri Baugh

The first is Sri Baugh, the stately garden house on Luz Church Road built in the late 19th century by Justice PR 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 16th November 1937 to chart out 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.

Potti memorial

It was at this juncture that Potti Sriramulu, a Gandhian, embarked on a fast-unto-death on 19th October, 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 15th December, Sriramulu died. The Telugu regions erupted in violence. A shaken Prime Minister, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru announced the formation of Andhra on 19th December. The State came into existence, covering the coastal regions and Rayalaseema with Kurnool as capital on 1st October 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 within the Amrutanjan premises. The house of Bulusu Sambamurthi 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.

This article appeared in The Hindu, dated 1st August 2013