Nara Chandrababu Naidu, president of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and chief minister of Andhra Pradesh between 1995 and 2004, was born on 20 April 1950 in the Chittoor district of the state.
He was the eldest child of Karjoora Naidu, a farmer, and Ammannama. He had two younger sisters. Not educated himself, Karjoora Naidu ensured that his children got a decent education.
Chandrababu did his basic schooling from the Seshapuram gram panchayat and secondary education from Chandragiri. He later pursued B.A. Economics at the S.V. Arts College in Tirupati, where he got interested in political and social issues.
He reportedly helped in the laying of a road to Bhimavaram and took up irrigation initiatives for the community. He actively took part in student politics. He later also secured an M.A. from the same university. Other politicians such as Pileru Ramachandra Reddy and K.S. Narayana were also from the S.V. University and Naidu’s contemporaries.
Growing as a politician
Starting as a youth leader, Naidu became a local Youth Congress president.
In 1978 he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh assembly as a Congress member. As a 28-year-old minister of technical education and cinematography, he was the youngest minister in the state cabinet.
He soon married Bhuvaneswari, daughter of film star N.T. Rama (NTR) Rao.
In 1982, NTR created his own political party, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Though Naidu contested the next assembly election as a Congress candidate, after the TDP swept the polls, he joined the TDP. Naidu soon became a close aide of NTR.
After the 1989 assembly election, Naidu was an opposition leader in the state assembly as the Congress was in power. Following a political coup by Naidu in 1995, he became Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 1 September 1995. He also became the TDP president. After NTR’s death, he led the TDP to victory in the next assembly polls.
A tech-savvy Chief Minister
As Chief Minister, Naidu is perhaps best known for his focus on urban governance and turning Hyderabad into an Information Technology hub. He liked to try out innovative ideas, especially when it came to governance and technology.
Comparing NTR with his son-in-law, a professor who knew Naidu for many years, told rediff.com: “NTR had charisma. Anything he did—wearing ear studs, saffron dress, doing Kali puja—became the talk of the town. He mixed religion with regionalism (by playing roles like Lord Krishna) with telling effect. Naidu thought he would have no future if these continued. So he has been spreading the concept of a working CM.”
Several foreign leaders made Hyderabad a must-stop in their India trips during Naidu's tenure. There were many positive stories in the international media about the technology-savvy Chief Minister, with the prestigious Time magazine even naming him South Asian of the Year. Many global computer and IT firms established centres in Hyderabad.
As the journalist Soutik Biswas wrote in the Outlook magazine in September 1998: “N. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Executive Officer, Andhra Pradesh Inc. Yes, more and more people are referring to this scruffy-bearded, regulation khadi shirt-cotton trouser-sandal-clad, halting-English-speaking man as India's best CEO rather than CM. Many call him India's only politician with a 21st century vision. And perhaps the only chief minister in independent India whose objectives and achievements are difficult to describe without using terms out of classic management texts.”
However, the TDP lost the 2004 assembly election. Some critics blamed the loss on a disconnect with sections of the rural voters. Naidu himself said the drought in parts of Andhra Pradesh and anti-incumbency were factors.
Though out of power, Naidu continues to be one of the key leaders of Andhra Pradhesh (and now Seemandhra, the state formed after the splitting up of Andhra Pradesh). And though it is a regional political outfit, the TDP’s Lok Sabha MPs play an important role in an era of coalition politics at the national level.
Also on this day:
1972 — Mamta Kulkarni, Hindi film actress, was born
- Telugu Desam Party website