From pasting party posters to an epitome of political and ideological loyalty who rose to become one of BJP’s most visible leaders and now India’s vice president-elect, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu has come a long way.
Born to a humble agricultural family in Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore district, the 68-year-old has served as BJP president, the minister in various portfolios and a long-time Rajya Sabha member.
This remarkable career in politics has been more than four decades in the making.
It began in the 1970s when BJP’s precursor Jana Sangh was a marginal player with little clout in the south and a young party worker kept himself busy putting up posters of stalwarts such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani.
Naidu has come a long way since those days of political obscurity.“Coming from an agricultural background, I never imagined I would be here. Agriculture has no proper voice in Indian polity,” India’s vice president-elect told PTI.
“I am very humbled. I am also thankful to the Prime Minister and all party leaders for their support. I will seek to utilise the vice presidential institution to strengthen the hands of the president and uphold the dignity of the Upper House,” he added.
Naidu is known for his oratory. A two-term member of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, he was elected to the Rajya Sabha three times from Karnataka. He represented Rajasthan in the Upper House of Parliament before he was nominated to the vice president’s post by the NDA.Once an Advani protege, Naidu vigorously backed Modi for the prime minister’s post before the 2014 elections.
He was minister for Information and Broadcasting and Housing and Urban Affairs in the Modi government and earlier also held the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio.
In the previous NDA government led by Vajpayee, he had served as Rural Development Minister.
The veteran party leader also served as the BJP national president from July 2002 to October 2004 for two consecutive terms.
He quit the post after the party’s defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.
Naidu was an ABVP activist during the Emergency and was arrested and jailed.
As the first minister of Parliamentary Affairs in the Modi government, Naidu defended the prime minister and the government whenever the opposition targeted them in Parliament.
Known for coining acronyms, Naidu termed the mission of the Modi Government as ‘MODI- Making of Developed India’ which had become the official line of the Centre in its public outreach campaign on the occasion of three years of being in office.
As the minister for Information and Broadcasting, he was always quick to present issues in perspective with effective repartee as and when required.
As Minister of Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, which was recently merged as Housing and Urban Affairs, Naidu pioneered the launch of several new urban missions, including the Smart City Mission, Atal Mission, Swachh Bharat Mission and Housing for All.
As Rural Development Minister, Naidu was instrumental in launching the hugely popular ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’.
When the Congress swept the polls in Andhra Pradesh in 1978, Naidu got elected as MLA from Udayagiri constituency as a Janata Party candidate.He was re-elected on a BJP ticket when N T Rama Rao swept the polls in the state.
But all that has receded into the past.
“There is no my party or your party. Now I am a non-party man,” Naidu told reporters this morning as the election for the vice president got underway.