A popular face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Venkaiah Naidu, was chosen as the party’s vice presidential candidate on Monday.
Naidu, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, was born on 1 July 1949 in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. His nomination, therefore, is being viewed as a politically strategic move to balance out the regional factor in South India.
Naidu’s interest in politics became evident quite early in his life as he chose to join the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) in 1973. He was 24 then. Naidu actively participated in the 'Jai Andhra Movement' of the 70s and his political career got a boost after he became the President of the youth wing of the Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh from 1977 to 1980. After that, he won the Andhra Pradesh assembly elections twice in 1978 and 1983 from Udayagiri constituency.
After the BJP was formed in 1980, he became Vice president of its youth wing. He was leader of the BJP Legislature Party in Andhra Pradesh, state general secretary and state unit chief.
Naidu was the BJP General Secretary in 1993-2000 and its spokesperson in between. He has been a part of apex committees of the party, including its parliamentary board and Central Election Committee.
Naidu’s Political Journey
Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu entered the RSS by accident – his links began in childhood when he chanced upon a 'shakha' while playing. Within some decades, he was the BJP's best known leader from southern India, one famous for witty one-liners.
Naidu cut his political teeth during the Emergency of 1975-77 when he went underground against the government of Indira Gandhi and eventually got jailed. He remained underground until his arrest, distributing anti-government literature in educational institutions in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, travelling on a scooter along with a woman activist on pillion in a bid not to arouse suspicion.
He was accused of disturbing a meeting of Sanjay Gandhi and was handcuffed during transit from one jail to the other.
Naidu rose to prominence after he became one of the leading opposition spokespersons along with S Jaipal Reddy, who was then in Janata Party, during the campaign by NT Rama Rao after his dismissal as the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister by Indira Gandhi in the 1980s.
He has handled key organisational assignments in the BJP and became its President in 2002. Naidu had three continuous terms in the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka from 1998 to 2016, when he shifted to Rajasthan to get a fourth term. He was Rural Development Minister during the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his inspiration, along with senior party leader LK Advani.
With Modi scripting the BJP’s success in 2014, Naidu described him as the most popular Indian leader, the most credible political personality and among the top 10 leaders of the world. He is credited with coining the acronym MODI – Making Of Developed India, a BJP favourite.
(With inputs from www.elections.in and IANS)