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Chandrababu Naidu’s remarkable comeback to become CM for fourth time


Amaravati, June 12
It was an emotional moment for Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Nara Chandrababu Naidu as he took oath as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh here on Wednesday in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Union ministers and thousands of people.

The 74-year-old became Chief Minister for the fourth time but this was something he would always cherish.

He was so hurt over the humiliation he faced in the state Assembly in November 2021 that he had vowed to return only after winning the election and becoming the Chief Minister.

Alleging that the MLAs of YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) humiliated him by making personal remarks about his wife Bhuvaneswari, Naidu broke down at a news conference on November 19, 2021.

Leading the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to a landslide victory in the recent polls, he fulfilled his pledge.

The seasoned politician battled many challenges in the last five years. The biggest challenge came in September last year when he was arrested for alleged irregularities in Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation during his previous term as the Chief Minister (2014-19).

For the first time in his 45-year-long political career, Naidu was sent to jail in a corruption case.

While he was in judicial custody, CID booked more cases as the YSRCP government led by YS Jagan Mohan Reddy was seen to be allegedly vindictive.

After spending 52 days in Rajahmundry Jail, he stepped out on bail on October 31.

“In my entire political career, I neither did wrong nor did I allow anyone to do anything wrong,” he declared.

Seven months later, he scripted an unprecedented victory in alliance with the Jana Sena and the BJP.

Naidu not only virtually decimated YSRCP to return to power but also emerged a kingmaker at the Centre after a gap of more than two decades.

With 16 MPs, TDP emerged as the second biggest party in the NDA after the BJP, and its support became crucial for the Modi government 3.0.

With the cash-strapped state desperately in need of the Centre’s help to rebuild itself and develop its state capital, Naidu remained loyal to the NDA despite the INDIA bloc’s attempts to woo him.

With his political career at a pinnacle, and with Naidu being keen to anoint his son Nara Lokesh as his political successor, the TDP chief preferred to have a strong bonding with the NDA.

This was reflected in Naidu inviting PM Modi and his ministers to the swearing-in.

Naidu knows that the Centre’s support is important for him to complete his unfinished dream project of building Amaravati as the state capital and to put the state economy back on the rails.

The regional satrap served as the Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 2004 for two terms and was also the first Chief Minister of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh from 2014 to 2019.

Tech-savvy Naidu, who also came to be called as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for his pro-business approach, served as Chief Minister for 14 years.

In between his terms as CM, he was also the Leader of Opposition for 15 years.

Hailing from Naravaripalli in Chittoor District of Rayalaseema region, Naidu started his political career from his student years in Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, where he did MA in Economics.

He began his political career with the Congress party.

In 1978, he became MLA at the age of 28. He was elected from Chandragiri constituency in Chittoor District and became a Minister at the age of 30.

He served as the Minister for Cinematography, Technical Education, Irrigation and Archives during T. Anjaiah’s government between 1980 and 1983.

In 1981, he married Bhuvaneswari, daughter of then Telugu superstar NT Rama Rao, who founded the Telugu Desam Party in 1982 and ended the virtual monopoly of the Congress party in Andhra Pradesh politics.

Naidu contested again from Chnadrgiri on a Congress ticket in 1983.

The TDP won a huge mandate by bagging a whopping 201 seats in the 294-member Assembly.

Naidu later joined the TDP and became a close aide of his father-in-law NTR.

He consolidated his position in the party as its General Secretary.

In 1994, when the TDP returned to power with a landslide majority, Naidu was elected from Kuppam and since then he has been representing this constituency.

Unhappy over the alleged interference of NTR’s second wife Lakshmi Parvathi in the administration and party affairs, Naidu led a revolt against his father-in-law in 1995 to become the Chief Minister.

Following NTR’s death a few months after the revolt, Naidu inherited his political legacy and took full control of the party.

Termed as the poster boy of new economic reforms, he placed Hyderabad on the world IT map by bringing software major Microsoft and many multinationals to the city.

Cyberabad, the IT cluster housing global giants, was his brainchild.

He also mastered the skill of doing business with any formation at the Centre, irrespective of its ideology.

His role in national politics began in 1996 as the convenor of United Front when he brought together regional parties to prop up the government of a third alternative.

In 1999 he aligned with the BJP. Riding the Vajpayee wave, he not only retained power in Andhra Pradesh but also became a kingmaker at the Centre by extending outside support to the NDA government.

After losing power to Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy in 2004 following a record nine-year stint as the Chief Minister, Naidu admitted his priorities were lopsided which led to the neglect of agriculture.

The TDP supremo failed to make a comeback in 2009 as the Congress retained power.

The emergence of Narendra Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate in 2014 offered Naidu a chance to revive his political fortunes.

He not only joined the NDA but by campaigning with Narendra Modi and supported by Pawan Kalyan, he succeeded in storming to power in the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh.

However, as a leader who always enjoyed the role of kingmaker, Naidu was uncomfortable in the new dispensation where PM Modi had absolute majority.

He embarked on the grandiose plan of developing Amaravati as a world-class city and the state capital but the support from the Centre for the Rs.1 lakh crore project was not forthcoming.

As YSRCP started targeting him for his compromise over Special Category Status (SCS), Naidu pulled out of the NDA in 2018.

From a great admirer of PM Modi, Naidu turned his worst critic and even joined hands with the Congress, his and his party’s sworn enemy of 35 years.

He even joined hands with the Congress in Telangana Assembly elections of 2018 but the experiment ended in a disaster with the Congress-led People’s Alliance biting the dust.

This was perhaps the biggest political misadventure of Naidu as alliance with a party blamed for division of Andhra Pradesh did not go down well with the people.

Allegations of corruption and casteism also dented Naidu’s image and ultimately led to his worst-ever poll defeat in 2019.