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NTR died without medical aid, says physician

A fresh controversy has erupted over the death, more than five years ago, of Telugu Desam Party founder N T Rama Rao, with his family physician making the startling claim that the actor-turned-politician's death was "not instantaneous" and that "he died without any medical assistance". Dr Kaklarla Subba Rao, in his about-to-be-released biography of NTR co-authored with a top scientist, contends that his death was "certainly not instantaneous" and that there was a time lag between his developing uneasiness and breathing his last. The author thus virtually accuses the former chief minister's second wife Lakshmi Parvathi of allowing him to die.

In his 214-page book titled A Doctor's Story of Life and Death, the reputed radiologist, who was medical adviser to Rama Rao's family, says that NTR's wife having "called none of us would remain a very disturbing fact of history and a big hole in my consciousness".

"The last days of NTR were painful. Almost imprisoned by his wife, he was alienated from his people. Stories of his taking steroids to enhance his virility, so that he could father a son to Lakshmi Parvathi, created widespread disgust and loss of face to hundreds of very committed people who stood by him during the thick and thin in his life," noted Dr Subba Rao, who is now vice-chancellor of the city-based Nizam's Institute of Medical Sciences.

The book, made available to the United News of India, observes that things started changing with NTR after his second marriage as "the new wife wove her web around him".

He also wonders whether the actor secretly took certain medicines, knowing well that they should be avoided.

Recalling his visit to NTR's house to congratulate him on his last electoral victory in 1994, Dr Subba Rao says he was shocked to see Lakshmi Parvathi feeding him with her hands and almost bragging about the care she gave the old man.

NTR swept that election, but not before marrying Lakshmi Parvathi, a party worker half his age. Things meanwhile started changing for him, or at least for the biographer.

"In the earlier days, he used to call me at late nights on trivial issues such as to confirm whether he should take a particular pill that had been prescribed to him by another doctor. But when I asked about his health this time, he very curtly said, 'What has happened to me? I am all right. "With my years in medicine behind me, I could feel something terribly wrong in him. Was he avoiding discussing his health?"

The book has been co-authored by former missile scientist Arun K Tiwari, who has penned a biography of the father of the Indian missile programme, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam. Tiwari is director of the Cardiovascular Technology Institute of the Care Foundation in Hyderabad.

Dr Subba Rao said he had respectfully declined the offer NTR had made to him to take over the reins of NIMS "as I hate political interference in the functioning of professional institutions".

NTR, however, made him agree to be adviser to the government for health services.

Dr Subba Rao said NTR's death in the early hours of January 18, 1996, was without the presence of any physician by his side. "A man who created NIMS died without getting medical assistance. That I could not do anything to save my mentor from his fiendish end would ever remain a tormenting guilt in me," he bemoaned.

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