The descendants of two royal families have buried the hatchet and come together to fight for the victory of the Telugu Desam Party in Vizianagaram district. The rulers of the Vizianagaram and Bobbili families had been rivals for the last 260 years.
Bobbili was once a small kingdom (and a Samsthan) in the coastal district of Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh ruled by Gopala Krishna Ranga Rao, a Velama scion. Earlier, these districts were called Circar districts. In the 18th century during the rule of Salabat Jung, the Nizam of Hyderabad, these areas were under the rule of Raja Poosapati Vijayaramarja Gajapathi who ruled from Vizianagaram. Bobbili rulers were Velamas by caste and Vizianagaram rulers were Kshatriyas.
Though initially, both the kingdoms shared a cordial relationship, Ranga Rao’s disinterest in paying taxes to the French kicked off a series of disputes. The French interfered and got political while the Vizianagaram Raja was irked by Ranga Rao’s unyielding attitude. The bitter rivalry between the families dates back to the Battle of Bobbili in 1757 when Vizianagaram king, Raja Vijayarama Raju, helped the French attack the Bobbili Fort.
Bobbili troops repulsed the attack twice, but the fort finally fell in the third assault. Many members of the Bobbili royalty chose to commit suicide rather than surrender, after losing the battle. This battle is also one of the most important chapters in the formation of South India as well as a part of the Telugu folklore, known as Bobbili Katha.
After achieving Independence in 1947, both the princely states were merged into the Indian Union. However, the hostility between the families continued, with members of the royal families joining different political parties in the state. This dispute within families also descended into politics as it became as battle between two castes, Velamas and Rajus in Vizianagaram.
In the 2014 elections, Union minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju won the Vizianagaram MP seat contesting on a TDP ticket while Sujaya Krishna Ranga Rao of the Bobbili family registered victory from the Bobbili Assembly constituency as a YSR Congress candidate. Though Raju won the election, he had to face trouble in the Bobbili segment, which is a part of the Vizianagaram Parliamentary constituency.
It is learnt that the TDP supremo, N. Chandrababu Naidu, had invited Ranga Rao to join his party, ahead of the 2019 polls, and he reportedly accepted the proposal. Initially, the decision was objected by Ashok Gajapathi Raju but later he was persuaded by Naidu. Now, Ranga Rao is contesting from the Bobbili constituency again, but on a TDP ticket and he is also extending full support to Gajapathi Raju from his segment.