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Team India manager in poll fray

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Coverage: India Votes 2009

April 14, 2009

He held the bat with confidence. A young boy bowled. The ball was going down the leg side and would be called a wide. But the batsman swung to play an attacking shot, lost his balance, fell and fractured his hip.

D V Subba Rao, the Bharatiya Janata Party [Images] candidate for the Visakhapatnam [Images] Lok Sabha elections, needed a doctor to be flown in from Hyderabad's Apollo Hospital to operate on him.

He had gone campaigning early in the morning to meet the early walkers. Some kids were playing cricket. The television journalists who were following his campaign trail wanted a shot of him playing cricket. The kids were happy since they would be playing with the man was the manager of the Indian cricket team over a decade ago and is now president of the Andhra Cricket Association.

"I faced only one ball and now I am in this wheel-chair. The doctors were very good. They had me walking with this support in three days. They said I will heal eventually but did not specify how long," he says.

His wheel-chair is loaded on an open jeep and he braves the sun to meet his voters. Former Union minister Arun Shourie flew in to canvass for him.

He spoke to's A Ganesh Nadar about cricket, his law career and his political ambitions.

Tell us about your experience as the chairman of the Bar Council of India?

It was the first time that a lawyer who does not practice in the Supreme Court or any high court became the chairman. I was the elected member from Andhra Pradesh at the bar in Delhi [Images]. They elected me twice because they might have liked me. It is a statuary body formed by an act of Parliament in 1961. The Attorney General and Solicitor General of India are members of the council.

Experience as manager of the Indian cricket team�

That was in 1997 when India toured the West Indies [Images]. The tour was for four and half months. Sachin Tendulkar [Images] was the captain. He was like a normal human being without any ego. His behaviour never reflected his iconic status. The cricketers used to meet me one on one. They respect you because of your age, and if you are knowledgeable they respect you much more. I am passionate about cricket and in my family everyone loves cricket.

On that tour there was a forgettable incident. On the last day in Barbados we were so close to victory. We needed about 127 runs to win and had 9 wickets. We collapsed and lost. Otherwise it was a good tour.

Today I am happy with our cricket team. The format of the game has changed. One-day cricket has influenced the five-day game too. Now we have more result oriented games.

Your political career�

I was always interested in social service. I was a member in a club doing social work. I have worked with political leaders who you read about in books today. They were men of integrity. There were stalwarts in every state during the Independence movement and in the first elected government.

NTR (N T Rama Rao) was at his zenith when he accused the central government of treating Andhra Pradesh in a step motherly fashion. In a public meeting he declared that the people would not take it lying down. He was accused of inciting violence and threatening the nation. It would have been very difficult to make him stand in court. The public would have caused chaos.

So they wanted the court to dispense with his appearance. They approached me to fight that case. The judge insisted on his presence and declared that Indira Gandhi [Images] had appeared in court so why not a chief minister.

In the meanwhile the Supreme Court had said in the K Karunanidhi [Images] case that the chief minister was a public servant and thus the permission of the government was needed to take legal action against him. I used that judgment to win the case for NTR.

He was happy. He asked me to suggest names for the post of chairman of the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority. I suggested several names but he appointed me. That was the start of my public career.

Later I contested the mayoral elections from the Telugu Desam Party and won. In 1997 I changed over to the BJP because I wanted to be in a national party. I contested the 1997 Lok Sabha election as a BJP candidate. This is my second attempt to enter the Lok sabha.

What are the important issues in Visakhapatnam?

This is the second largest city in Andhra Pradesh. There is a huge central government investment of Rs 40,000 crore. We have the steel plant, we have a shipyard. We have a refinery and a major port. On the eastern sea front between Chennai and Kakinada this is the only port. It's a major port for connections to Singapore, Thailand and the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

The biggest problem is getting water from the Godavri. Power is also a problem. Power generation is not adequate. Sustaining the heavy industries is difficult. At one time we thought that Hindujas would build a power plant here but it did not materialise.

Power and water are the major issues. Joblessness is not an issue here but because it's a major industrial area people flock here. Migration is the problem we have to look at and civic amenities will have to be provided.

What are the issues in coastal Andhra Pradesh?

Drinking water is the biggest problem here.

What are the aspirations of the youth?

The youth need direction. They are unable to decide where they are going. They are caught in between aping the West and the culture they belong to. They should take the best in the West and East and evolve the best out of it.

Why is Visakhapatnam called the City of Destiny?

In 1922 this was a fishing village. There was a survey of India conducted in that year. The Surveyor General saw the natural harbour, the availability of iron ore and said that this city had tremendous potential. He called it the City of Destiny.

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