Venkaiah Naidu is NDA's vice-presidential candidate: All you need to know about the BJP veteran

After being the frontrunner, BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu was on Monday declared as the nominee for the post of vice-president.

Naidu, who is among the most experienced leaders in the BJP, will contest against Opposition's Gopalkrishna Gandhi, in the 2017 vice-presidential polls.

Growing up in politics

Born on 1 July, 1949 in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu joined the RSS by accident — his links go back to his childhood days when he chanced upon a 'shakha' while playing.

Naidu started his political journey as a student leader in 1971. He was the president of the student union at VR College, where he pursued his bachelor's degree in politics and diplomatic studies. He later also became the president of the student's union of colleges affiliated to Andhra University.

 Venkaiah Naidu is NDAs vice-presidential candidate: All you need to know about the BJP veteran

File image of M Venkaiah Naidu. PTI

Naidu pursued law and was involved in the movement launched by Jayaprakash Narayan. He was the president of the youth wing of the Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh from 1977 to 1980.

Early political career

The BJP veteran, who is a key member of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Cabinet, had cut his political teeth during the Emergency of 1975-77 when he went underground against the government of Indira Gandhi and eventually was 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 got handcuffed during transit from one jail to the other.

Naidu hit the national scene when he was one of the prominent Opposition spokespersons during the campaign by NT Rama Rao after the latter's dismissal as the Andhra Pradesh chief minister by Indira Gandhi in the 1980s.

Even though the BJP was on a weak wicket in southern India, Naidu embraced it tightly. After Emergency, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in 1978 and was a legislator till 1985. After the BJP was formed in 1980, he became vice-president of its youth wing.

Rajya Sabha experience

The 68-year-old BJP veteran is a four-time Rajya Sabha member. He was elected in 1998 to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, and later made his way back in 2004. His third term in the Council of States began in June 2010, and he was later re-elected in June 2016 from Rajasthan. Between 2006-2008, he was the chairman of the Committee on Petitions in Rajya Sabha.

Influence in southern India

As The Times of India points out, having nominated Ram Nath Kovind who hails from Uttar Pradesh for the president's post, BJP will achieve a regional balance with Naidu. With this, the party hopes to gain a stronghold in south India as Karnataka is the only state in the south where BJP has a significant political presence.

Seniority among peers

Naidu, who is known for his witty one-liners, is among the most senior leaders in the BJP. He has handled key organisational assignments in the BJP and became its president in 2002. He was rural development minister during the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his inspiration, along with senior party leader LK Advani.

It is not surprising to know that Modi himself pitched for Naidu on Monday when he vouched on social media for the BJP leader's abilities.

Modi said it was Naidu's experience that made him 'a fitting candidate' to become a Rajya Sabha chairperson.

Naidu is currently the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. He was the Parliamentary Affairs Minister for the first two years in the Modi government.

His term as Urban Development Minister has seen several initiatives including the Smart Cities campaign.

With inputs from IANS

Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 17:00:13 IST