“It is an insult to a person when you attest his/her values by a particular location, caste or language . I want to be recognized by my values and my work as a leader. I don’t want to be a recognized as a Telangana , Andhra or a Rayalaseema leader. “ – Bandaru RamMohan Rao, his words inspired by Abdul Kalam Azad.
Bandaru Rammohan Rao is Andhra Pradesh State Organization Secretary for Lok Satta Party. He is a regular instructor at the party’s School for Democracy and Study Center. Previously, he served as a Sarpanch of Pragnyapur village, Medak District, Vice President of Gajwel Mandal, Medak. He is also a career advocate (MA, LLB) journalist, writer and poet. He was born in Pragnyapur village on July 25, 1958. Mr. Bandaru can be reached via email or phone (+91- 9866074027).
Author: Sravanthi Yalamanchili
Early Life and Career
Bandaru Rammohan Rao was born and brought up in a small village in Medak District called Pragnyapur. Like many villages in Telangana, Pragnyapur too was dominated by landlords or bhooswamis ( also called as Dora/ దొర in telugu). During his childhood, Bandaru had seen severe oppression by Dora on village people. There was an instance where the Dora cut both hands of a person from the dalit community for the sin of reading out newspapers and educating villagers about the outside world. Situations like these, encouraged Bandaru, who was only 17 years old then, to write articles to newspapers like ‘Nalupu’ , ‘Andhra Bhoomi’ and ‘Eenadu’ about the happenings in the village. He never used actual names in the articles to save himself from Dora. Later, he was hired as a weekly writer for ‘Vedika’ column in Andhra Bhoomi from 1979 – 1981 where, he used to write against the politics of Indira Gandhi ( post emergency period) and on various socio-political topics concerning the village and society as a whole. Andhra Bhoomi paid him Rs 15/- to 20/- every month to tour 10 different districts and write on the social, political situations/issues in one district every month. By the age of 23, he became a ward member of Pragnyapur after securing 153 out of 183 votes. As a ward member, the first thing he implemented was to change the face of grama sabha. First he made sure the grama sabhas were held every 6 months and second, that they were held in a fair manner. Previously it was a custom that the Sarpanch/Dora would sit on a chair while the other attendees sat on the bare floor. But Bandaru demanding equality for all through a chain of letters he wrote to the Sarpanch , got him to sit down along with others. This made him a village hero over night. Later, it is with the support of same villagers, Bandaru won the elections and for the first time, since 29 years, Pragnyapur had a Sarpanch elected without the use of power, fear or money.
Journalist for Eenadu and Surpanch of Pragnyapur
In 1986, as a journalist for Eenadu newspaper, Bandaru wrote an article on illegitimate selling of hundreds of liters of milk at Pragnyapur Dairy Center (పాల కేంద్రం) which infuriated the management who physically attacked Bandaru . He, as a result had to go to the court to lawfully punish them. There was several instances like this- a police complaint and case against Bhooswami for molesting a dalit woman, a campaign and high court case against the Sarpanch and his henchmen for forcefully demanding money of (మామూళ్ళు) Rs 30/- a day from small shop keepers etc. Likewise, Bandaru brought many small but significant changes to the village and the villagers requested him to run for Surpanch against the Dora, who tried to bribe the voters and got caught red handed distributing Rs 5040/- by police . Bandaru finally won the elections and for the first time in Pragnyapur a Sarpanch was elected without the use of power, fear or money. He also broke the 29 year rule of Dora in Pragnyapur.
Following are some of the developments brought in by Bandaru as the village Surpanch.
* There was no A.P.S.R.T.C bus depot between Siddipet and Hyderabad routes which are at least 100 Km apart- it was Bandaru who got a bus depot in Pragnyapur in the year 1991 with 1crore 60 lakhs funding from the government for this project.
* He successfully implemented his vision of one school at every kilometer distance from each other. The existing school was updated and 2 new schools – 2 primary and 2 upper primary schools were added during his tenure as a village Surpanch. All schools were equipped with buildings and basic facilities. They were built with partial funding from government and partially from the people’s fund raised locally.
* A veterinary hospital was built, the Homeopathy Hospital was developed, the post office was converted to sub post office and every street of Pragnyapur was equipped with street lights.
* From the year 1988 to 1995, Bandaru served as the Mandal Vice President and acting President of Gajwel Mandal. During this time, he mainly concentrated on educating the people about Panchayat Raj, the importance of decentralization of power and also new methods of agriculture. He also allocated lands for all electricity and communication related government offices and police station.
* As a campaign Manager to Dr. J. Geeta Reddy (currently Major Industries Minister) during 1989 elections where she won from Gajwel constituency.
* As a Vice Chairman of Manjeera Rachayitala Sangham ( MARASAM). Bandaru is also a poet and writer. His poems often appear on Loksatta Times.
* Bandaru won the ’Best Farmer’ award thrice from the Govt. of AP for promoting sericulture and vegetable farming in Pragnyapur.
Association with Loksatta
Bandaru completed MA, LLB and by 1992, he started as an advocate. Having known of his credibility in Gajwel and surrounding areas, Dr JayaPrakash Narayan requested him to join Loksatta organization in 1999. By then, as a busy advocate, Bandaru used to spend Saturday and Sunday for the organization while his week days dedicated for the advocate profession. Overtime, his priorities shifted where he spent more than 5 days in a week for Loksatta and 2 days for his profession until 2007, when he retired and Bandaru, who currently resides in Hyderabad, now dedicates his time entirely for the party.
Loksatta non-profit Organization
* 1999 – 2002, District Coordinator for Medak (succeeded by Tummanapally Srinivas)
* 2001- 2002, Zonal Coordinator for 3 districts Medak, Adilabad and Nizambad for Loksatta organization
* 2003 – 2004, Coordinated programs and training local leaders on ‘decentralization of power and empowering local governments’ in the entire state of Andhra Pradesh along with other leaders of Loksatta. His prior experience as a village surpanch and mandal vice president , made it natural for Mr. Bandaru to lead these campaigns .
* 2004 coordinator for ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) project, where he represented Loksatta Organization along with another volunteer Mr. Soma Sundar. The main purpose of ASER is to evaluate the progress made from Sarva Siksha Abhiyan project that was introduced in 2001. While states like Uttar Pradesh has upto 270 NGO’s volunteering for the survey, Loksatta single-handedly did the entire work in the state of Andhra Pradesh.
* 2005 – 2006, Andhra Pradesh State Coordinator for ASER . Since Loksatta became a political party in october of 2006, the loksatta volunteers (including Bandaru and Soma Sundar) only involve indirectly that is in the form of training ASER volunteers.
Between 2005-2006, Bandaru played a vital role to demonstrate the need for Loksatta to emerge as a political party and clean the current broken political system. He addressed 72 out of 130 preparatory meetings held in various constituencies of the state of Andhra Pradesh attended by members and supporters of Loksatta. In 2006, After Loksatta Party was officially formed, Bandaru toured 17 out of 24 District divisions to appoint district executive bodies.
Association with Loksatta Party
Bandaru served in the following positions of Loksatta Party.
* 2006, District in-charge for Kadapa, Prakasam and Kurnool districts.
* 2006 – a Core committee member to draft the constitution for Loksatta Party along with Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (JP) , D.V.V.S Varma, Katari Srinivas Rao, Soma Sundar and other leaders.
* 2007 – 2008, Nominated State Executive Committee member. During this time, Loksatta Party formed executive bodies in 582 Mandals in the state of AP
* Feb 2008 – Bandaru went back to Loksatta Organization to fill some gaps in the leadership as per advice of Dr JP, where he was appointed as the General Secretary. During this time, he toured 13 districts
* March 2009 Contested as a MLA from Gajwal Constituency, Medak District.
* Training coordinator, along with D.V.V.S Varma, at School of Democracy, started by Loksatta party and a tutor, coordinator for various training programs started by Loksatta (see Loksatta Training section).
* One of the regular speakers at Loksatta Party Study Center, where seminars, discussions will be held on various topics every Saturday. D.V.V.S Varma and Karthik Chandra are other regular speakers.
* 2007-2009, 2010-present Andhra Pradesh State Organization Secretary
Bandaru has so far tutored 54 out of the 120 municipal trainings and 9 Farmer Trainings that include 2 mandals in Srikakulam , 2 mandals in Anantapur district in Rayalaseema, 5 mandals in Nizamabad district.
Family and personal life
Bandaru is married to Sujatha, a housewife. They have 2 daughters – Mythri and Jwala. Both are married and currently living in Secunderabad.