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|October 7, 1999||
Naidu becomes fourth AP CM to return his party to power
Shireen in Hyderabad
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who has successfully led the Telugu Desam Party in the just-concluded elections in the state, joins the select few chief ministers who returned their party to power in the state.
Chandrababu Naidu shares this honour with only four of predecessors. Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the first chief minister to lead the Congress successfully in the 1957 assembly polls, followed by his successor Kasu Brahmanda Reddy in the 1967 assembly polls, and then by P V Narasimha Rao in 1972.
In recent times, Telugu Desam Party founder N T Rama Rao led his party to a resounding win in the 1985 assembly elections. And now it's Naidu's turn.
In contrast, Congress Working Committee member Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy, who became chief minister twice, handed over power to NTR in the 1983 and 1994 elections. Even a popular chief minister like Jalagam Vengala Rao could not retain power in the 1978 elections.
The 1999 polls to the Lok Sabha and state assembly are, incidentally, the third general elections faced by Chandrababu Naidu since he assumed power, following a coup four years ago.
In the 1996 Lok Sabha polls, he led the party single-handedly and won 16 seats for the TDP and three seats for its Left allies. In the 1998 elections, the TDP's tally came down to 12 while the allies - the CPI and the Janata Dal -- bagged three seats.
After the TDP extended support to the BJP-led coalition government at the Centre after the 1998 elections, the Left parties and the JD broke off their ties with the TDP.
On the eve of the 1999 polls, Chandrababu Naidu had reached an understanding with the BJP on 'seat-sharing' without formally joining the National Democratic Alliance or terming the understanding as a 'poll alliance'.
What's more, after every successive Lok Sabha elections since 1996, Chandrababu Naidu has exploited the TDP's tally of Lok Sabha seats in forming governments at the Centre. In 1996, he was instrumental in giving shape to the United Front that ruled for two years under two prime ministers with support from the Congress.
After the 1998 polls, the TDP chief once again catapulted himself into a pivotal position by writing to the President of India that the TDP would adopt a policy of equidistance from the Congress and the BJP. Subsequently, he deserted the UF and extended "conditional, issue-based support from outside" to the BJP-led coalition government.
Now, by helping the BJP pick up half-a-dozen Lok Sabha seats in the state, as against four when the saffron contested on its own in 1998, Chandrababu Naidu has earned a lot of goodwill in the BJP national leadership. At the same time, he has also secured good control in the power equation by cornering a huge tally of 28 seats for his own party in the state. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will depend on the TDP in the 13th Lok Sabha as much as he did in the 12th Lok Sabha.
For Naidu, who belongs to the post-Independence generation of politicians, there is nothing wrong in pursuing opportunistic politics. He deserted the Congress in 1983 soon after the TDP founder and matinee idol N T Rama Rao led his nascent party to power, forming the first non-Congress government in the state.
When Nadendla Bhaskar Rao staged the infamous coup against NTR in August 1984, it was Chandrababu Naidu who came to his father-in-law's rescue and helped him regain power. Yet, when he himself got an opportunity in 1995, he staged a family and party coup and eased out NTR.
Born in an agricultural family in Naravaripally village in Chittoor district, Naidu had his college education at the Sri Venkateswara Arts College, Tirupati. He did his Masters in Economics from the Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. He was doing research for a PhD degree at the same university when he took to politics.
He held various positions in his college and organised a number of social activities. Following the 1977 cyclone, which devastated Diviseema taluka of Krishna district, he actively organized donations and relief material from Chittoor district for the cyclone victims.
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