Shri Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu was one of the foremost leaders of our freedom struggle. Through his dauntless courage and sacrifice he won widespread admiration. The people of Andhra Pradesh in particular, have derived much inspiration from his achievements as fighter, editor and political leader.
Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, the first Chief Minister of the Andhra State and the most popular Andhra leader of this country was born on 23rd of August 1872 at a village called Kanuparthi (then in Guntur district). He is popularly known as “Andhra Kesari”.
Early Life: His father Gopalakrishnayya was a village headman. He migrated to Nellore district where he secured a job of earning in Rs. 8 a month in the Venkatagiri estate. Prakasam Pantalu had his primary education at Nayudupeta. In 1880 when Prakasam Pantulu was only eight years of age, his father died and the burden of maintaining the family consisting of three young children fell on his mother, a courageous lady with an independent bent of mind. As she did not want to be a drag on her brother, she migrated to Ongole with her children and set up a private mess opposite the Munsiff’s court.
Education: Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu continued his studies in the Government Middle School at Ongole where he came under the influence of the Mathematics teacher, Immaneni Hanumantha Rao Naidu. Sri Naidu played a very important part in shaping the career of Prakasam. When Hanumantha Rao Naidu left Ongole for Rajahmundry to join his new post, Prakasam followed him and continued his studies there.
Rajahmundry was at that time an active centre of Telugu dramas. Popular dramas written by Chilakamarti Lakshmi Narasimham were frequently enacted. Tanguturi Prakasam was drawn towards the stage. He along with his mentor, Hanumantha Rao Naidu took leading roles in plays like Gayopakyanam. Prakasam was also involved in quarrels of different theatre companies. He became notorious as a “rowdy”. As a result of these activities, his studies were neglected and he failed in the Matriculation examination. But he managed to pass the examination in his second attempt. He then joined the F.A. class in the Government Arts College, Rajahmundry. He passed the F.A. examination when he was 19 years of age. He wanted to become a pleader, but was not allowed to take up the pleader’s examination on the grounds that he had “not yet cut his wisdom tooth.” He therefore waited for two years and joined the Madras Law College in 1893.
He started practice at Rajahmundry in 1897, and soon began to amass a fortune. He was involved in Municipal politics and became the Chairman of the Rajahmundry Municipality. In October 1903 he sailed for England to qualify himself as a barrister.
He returned to India in 1906 and set up practice at Madras in 1907. Mr. Justice Wallace advised Prakasam to set up practice in a moffusil town as he felt that an Andhra barrister could not face the competition from the Tamil lawyers of Mylapore. Prakasam did not accept this advice and decided to face the competition from the Tamil lawyers. Within two years he became a leading member of the Bar and usurped the entire practice relating to the Andhra districts. Prakasam began to take lively interest in the politics of the country. Soon after he had set up practice in Madras in 1907, Bipin Chandra Pal visited that city on a lecture tour. When no prominent citizen came forward to preside over the meetings of Pal, Tanguturi Prakasam came forward and presided over all the meetings of Pal in Madras. During the next fourteen years he had a lucrative practice. During this period he edited the journal Law Times. He went to England twice to argue cases before the Privy Council.
As Chief Minister: He served as Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from 30th April, 1946 to 23rd March, 1947. After Indian Independence, the state of Hyderabad was created on 1st October, 1953. Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu was elected on 1st October 1953.