Naidu, Chandrababu

Naidu, Chandrababu
▪ 2000

      One of the up-and-coming figures in Indian politics in 1999, Chandrababu Naidu was viewed as a future prime minister by many political analysts. In October he won a second term as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh state, riding the crest of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and its win in the state elections. Known for his political acumen and zeal for reform, Naidu had, in a relatively short time, emerged as a national leader of prominence. An efficient administrator and policy maker who saw his role as “more akin to that of a CEO than a chief minister,” Naidu represented a new breed of Indian politician. Appreciated for his dynamism and willingness to experiment, he accorded priority to good governance and infrastructure development and exhibited the will to invigorate the economic climate of the state. In particular, Naidu's emphasis on the development of information technology helped transform Andhra Pradesh's capital, Hyderabad, into one of India's most attractive destinations for new investment.

      Naidu was born on April 20, 1950, in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Initiated into politics during his student days at Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, Naidu discontinued his doctoral studies to pursue a career in politics. He was elected to the Andhra Pradesh state legislative assembly in 1978 and served (1980–83) as a minister in the state Cabinet. During this period he married the daughter of N.T. Rama Rao, a superstar of Telugu films and founder of the TDP who also served as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. Naidu joined the TDP in 1983 after the party swept the state elections that year.

      Naidu became general secretary of the TDP in 1985 and was instrumental in building up an effective party organization. Although Naidu did not hold a portfolio in Rama Rao's government when it was in power (1983–89), he came to wield considerable clout within the party. When the TDP was out of power from 1989 to 1994, Naidu served as party coordinator, skillfully handling its opposition role in the state assembly. His work during this phase was a key factor in the subsequent success of the TDP in the state elections of 1994.

      In early 1995 Naidu staged a successful intraparty coup against his father-in-law to counter the rising influence of Laxmi Parvathi, Rama Rao's second wife. Later that year he was unanimously elected as leader of the TDP and won his first term as chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He continued to strengthen the party, and in the 1996 parliamentary elections the TDP made significant gains. In the 1999 parliamentary elections, the TDP took 29 seats in the Lok Sabha (House of the People), a performance that solidified Naidu's reputation as a leader to be reckoned with.

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