Venkaiah Naidu is NDA nominee for India's vice-president

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu has been named as the ruling National Democratic Alliance’s candidate for becoming the vice-president of India. The opposition has already announced the senior politician Gopal Das Gandhi as its candidate.

A Rajya Sabha member of the Bharatiya Janata Party from Rajasthan (elected in May last year), Naidu is also the minister of housing and urban poverty alleviation.

Born on 1 July 1949, Naidu began his career as a student leader in Andhra University in the early seventies. A senior member of the party, he has also been the national president from 2002 to 2004. Earlier, he was the union cabinet minister for rural development in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.

He was elected as an MLA to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly twice from Udayagiri constituency in Nellore district, in 1978 and 1983. 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 Vajpayee. He was known for pushing for reforms in Rural development and for the many schemes introduced during this period such as the 'Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

He succeeded Jana Krishnamurthy as the National President of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2002. On 28 January 2004, he was elected unopposed for a full three-year term. After the defeat of the BJP led NDA in the 2004 general elections, he resigned from his post on 18 October 2004 and was succeeded by L.K. Advani.

However, he has remained in the forefront of the BJP as one of its senior vice-presidents and an important campaigner. Naidu raised special status to Andhra Pradesh issue in Rajya Sabha (as opposition member in February 2014) and demanded special category state status to AP. The then prime minister had agreed to it, though it was not included in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014.

Following the 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.

Born at Chavatapalem in the Nellore district, 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 a specialisation in international law from Andhra University College of Law, Visakhapatnam. He was a swayamsevak in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and joined Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad 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 K 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.

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