Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA announced the name of its vice-presidential candidate soon after votes were cast to elect the next president of India. It is the minister of urban development, housing and urban poverty alleviation and information and broadcasting Venkaiah Naidu.
A farmer’s son, Venkaiah Naidu comes from humble background. Known to have his way with words, the veteran politician is also famous for his one-liners.
A key member of Narendra Modi’s cabinet, the veteran BJP leader is also known to be close to the Prime Minister. He is also one of the government’s trouble-shooters because of his good communication skills.
Naidu was born on 1 July 1949 at Chavatapalem, in the Nellore district of the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh. He completed schooling from V. R. High School, Nellore, and pursued his bachelor’s degree in politics and diplomatic studies from V. R. College. Later, he acquired a bachelor’s degree in law with specialisation in international law from Andhra University College of Law, Visakhapatnam. He was a swayamsevak in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and joined ABVP during his college days.He was elected as the president of the students union of colleges affiliated to the Andhra University. He came into spotlight for his prominent role in the Jai Andhra Movement of 1972. While Kakani Venkata Ratnam led the movement from Vijayawada, Naidu took active part in the agitation in Nellore, until it was called off a year later.
In 1974, he became the convener of the anti-corruption Jayaprakash Narayan Chhatra Sangharsh Samiti of Andhra Pradesh. He took to streets in protest against the emergency and was imprisoned. From 1977–80, he was president of its youth wing. It was during this time that he gained popularity
Both as a student leader and political figure, Naidu gained prominence as a brilliant orator, who vigorously championed the cause of the farmers and the development of backward areas. His oratory skills and political activism propelled his political career and he was elected as an MLA to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly twice from Udayagiri constituency in Nellore district in 1978 and 1983. He rose to become one of the most popular leaders of the BJP in Andhra Pradesh.
After having served in various organisational posts of the BJP at the state and national level, he was elected as a member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka in 1998. He has since been re-elected twice in 2004 and 2010 from Karnataka. He served as the party spokesperson from 1996 to 2000, bringing to the job his panache for quirky alliterations and similes. Unlike most politicians from southern India, Naidu made an effort to master Hindi, going on to address public rallies in northern India.
After the NDA victory in the 1999 general elections, he became the Union Cabinet Minister for Rural development in the government headed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee. He was known for aggressively pushing for reforms in Rural development and for the many schemes introduced during this period such as the ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
Following the historic victory of the BJP in the 2014 general elections, he has sworn as the Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs on 26 May 2014.
Naidu is also involved with the Swarna Bharath Trust, a social service organisation founded by him in Nellore. The trust runs a school for poor, orphaned and special-needs children and imparts self-employment training programmes especially for women and youth.
On 5 July 2016, he concurrently served as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. A year later, he resigned from both offices to contest the 2017 VP election. M Venkaiah Naidu Is India’s Next Vice President.