After doggedly fighting two successive Congress governments as Leader of the Opposition during the past 10 years in the pre-bifurcation phase, Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu began a new innings in his political career on Sunday as Chief Minister of residuary Andhra Pradesh with a promise to turn it into a model State.
Keen to shed his pro-reforms image, Mr. Naidu has repeatedly asserted in the recent past that he would be according top priority to welfare programmes and also maintained that he was ready to rectify his mistakes.
‘Vastunna Mee Kosam’ padayatra launched by the TDP, during which he trekked 2,817 km and renewed mass contact with the people, had not only played a major role in the Telugu Desam coming to power in Seemandhra, but also helped the party pick up some seats in Telangana.
Hailing from Naravaripalle in Chittoor district, the 64-year-old TDP leader completed his M.A. (Economics) from Sri Venkateswara University before entering politics and became a Youth Congress leader. In 1978, he won on Congress ticket from Chandragiri Assembly constituency and later became a member of the Anjaiah Cabinet, holding the portfolios of Technical Education and Cinematography.
Mr. Naidu subsequently married Bhuvaneswari, daughter of popular actor N.T. Rama Rao. After Rama Rao launched the Telugu Desam party, Mr. Naidu, however, fought as Congress candidate from Chandragiri in 1983 and was defeated by his TDP rival. He later joined the Telugu Desam and played a pivotal role in ensuring that party MLAs remained together after Rama Rao was toppled by his own Finance Minister and number two in the Cabinet, Nadendla Bhaskara Rao, in 1984.
As TDP general secretary, he was instrumental in building the organisation across Andhra Pradesh from grassroots level. The TDP leader also played a key role along with NTR in bringing together non-Congress opposition parties on to a single platform at the national level and in the formation of the National Front and the United Front.
Mr. Naidu held the portfolio of Finance Minister in NTR’s Cabinet and became Chief Minister in 1995 after he led a revolt in the Telugu Desam party and dethroned NTR alleging that his wife Lakshmi Parvathi was acting as an “extra-constitutional authority”. In 1999, TDP returned to power and Mr. Naidu became an ally of the BJP-led NDA and extended outside support to the coalition at the Centre.
Although, he made Hyderabad a well-known destination in the IT sector, he lost power in 2004 due to the perceived neglect of farmers and the rural sector as the Congress stormed to power and Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy became the Chief Minister. Since then, Mr. Naidu repositioned himself as a pro-poor and pro-farmer leader and his promise to waive farm and DWCRA loans was believed to be one of reasons for TDP winning 102 seats in Seemandhra.