He was kidnapped by Naxalites in the 1990s
Balaraju was first elected to Legilsative Assembly in 1989
He unsuccessfully contested in the 1994, 1999 and 2004 polls
VISAKHAPATNAM: For Paderu MLA Pasupuleti Balaraju, his second entry into the Legislative Assembly proved quite lucky. His induction into the Cabinet by Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy marks his hitting centre stage after 15 years of political hibernation.
He had last represented Congress from the then Chintapalli (ST) Assembly constituency having won it in the 1989 elections.
He had grabbed the headlines when he was kidnapped by Naxalites way back in the early 1990s released after nearly a month.
While he was unsuccessful in getting the party ticket in every election since then - in 1994, 1999 and 2004 - he contested elections as party rebel or independent getting a good number of votes.
With the victory in the 2009 Assembly elections, the 47-year-old Balaraju happens to be a senior leader representing the tribal area.
Besides, what turned the tide in his favour is the defeat of Konathala Ramakrishna, former Commercial Taxes Minister and the face of the party in the district for a long time.
Mr. Balaraju’s accommodation in the Rajasekhar Reddy Cabinet also strikes a political balance as the TDP made M. Mani Kumari the tribal welfare minister in the Chandrababu Naidu cabinet after the 1999 elections.
The last time a tribal represented the area in the Congress Government was when his namesake Matsyarasa Balaraju was a minister when the party was in power between 1989 and 1994.
A heavy responsibility is cast upon Mr. Balaraju with his induction in the Cabinet as the tribal areas reeling under seasonal fevers and anthrax looks forward to substantial relief from one of their own.
Besides, he has to grapple with the escalation in Maoist violence in the discharge of his duties as minister.