Chandra Babu Naidu
Nara Chandrababu Naidu (Telugu:నారా చంద్రబాబు నాయుడు) (born April 20, 1950) was the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 2004. He holds the record of being the longest-serving chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and is also the founder of Heritage Foods. He is currently the leader of the opposition in the Andhra Pradesh state assembly, and the president of Telugu Desam Party, the second largest legislative party in Andhra Pradesh.
Early life and political career
Naidu was born in Naravaripally, a village in the Chittoor district. He earned a Masters degree in Economics from the Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati, and ventured into politics while pursuing his Ph.D. there. In 1978, Naidu was elected to the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly, from the Chandragiri constituency in the Chittoor district, on an Indian National Congress ticket. He became a minister in Tanguturi Anjaiah's cabinet, holding various portfolios including Archives, Cinematography, Technical Education, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development, Public Libraries and Minor Irrigation between 1980 to 1983. He also served as the Chairman of the Karshak Parishad state.
After losing the election from Chandragiri in 1983, he was elected again to the State Legislature from the Kuppam constituency of the Chittoor district in 1989. He served as a Coordinator of the Telugu Desam Party, to general appreciation from his party cadre and the public. His role during this phase, both within and outside the Legislative Assembly, was said to be a critical factor in the party's subsequent success at hustings.
In 1994, he was re-elected to the Assembly from the Kuppam constituency with one of the largest margins of victory (57,000 votes), and went on to hold portfolios such as Finance and Revenue. It was during Naidu's tenure that the Finance department became significantly more transparent.
Sensing a challenge from Lakhmi Parvathi, second wife of N.T. Rama Rao, for the Chief Ministership, Naidu strove to succeed Rao and won by a considerable majority. He was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 1 September 1995.
In the following State Assembly elections, Naidu led TDP to victory, and on 11 October 1999 he was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for the second term. In these elections, Naidu allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the victory of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Ministerial candidate from BJP, contributed significantly to Naidu's victory.
Naidu was instrumental in making Hyderabad one of the IT hubs in the country. A key development for this was Microsoft's decision to set up a development center in Hyderabad. Naidu also set up a Biotech park, and intended to make Andhra Pradesh the number-one destination in biotechnology.
Much of the modernisation of the administration of the area is attributed to Naidu, who computerized a number of government operations and led initiatives to improve the government-public interface, particularly in streamlining the process of payment of all utility bills and taxes. There was a great emphasis on infrastructure and the state saw a sudden increase in the road networks. He was also instrumental in the development of the new Hyderabad international airport. During his tenure many ports and IT parks were developed with private-public partnership.
On the rural front he launched schemes like "Janmabhoomi", a project encouraging people to be part of the development of the state. He was also instrumental in creating DWACRA groups, whose mission is to provide social and economic infrastructure to the women of Andhra Pradesh. However, he has attracted criticism for neglecting the agricultural sector, which accounts for more than 70% of the state population.
Future vision for Andhra Pradesh
According to Naidu, "our vision of Andhra Pradesh is a state where poverty is totally eradicated; where every man, woman and child has access to not just the basic minimum needs, but to all opportunities for leading a happy and fulfilling life; a knowledge and learning society built on the values of hard work, honesty, discipline and a collective sense of purpose." This reflects Naidu's perspective on the state's development, with the details of the vision to be fine-tuned in consultation with the people on a continuing basis.
Naidu's modernization of regional government, especially by bringing in video conferencing, which allowed him to address groups of geographically spread people simultaneously, was said to be effective in overcoming routine bureaucratic delays in the course of responding to issues of immediate public concern.
Naidu laid a lot of emphasis on water conservation and water harvesting. His key efforts include:
* A campaign to educate the people of the state and the administration about better water management and drought prevention
* A program called Neeru Meeru, the formation of watershed committees and the promotion of watershed development.
A voluntary movement among the citizens of the state towards water conservation is attributed to these initiatives, particularly the number of households who built rain water-harvesting structures.
Naidu also suggested a new way of looking at Center-State finance relations. He spearheaded the campaign for fiscal federalism in the wake of the recommendations of the Eleventh Finance Commission. He emphasized equity and efficiency in the devolution of Central revenues and sharing of resources between the Center and the States.
Naidu also wrote a book on governance; Plain Speaking, co-authored by Ninan Sevanti, which focuses on changing strategies of governance, hurdles in pursuing reforms and the need to break free from the politics of populism.
2003 Assassination attempt
On October 1, 2003, Naidu was involved in a land mine blast, which was believed to be part of an assassination attempt, planned by a naxal outfit, Peoples War Group, now known as CPI Maoist. He escaped with a fractured left collared bone and a hairline fracture to two of his right ribs. The incident occurred around 16:00 (IST) when Naidu was travelling in a convoy, heading to the Lord Venkateshwara temple in the Tirumala hills for the annual Brahmotsavam festival.
The explosive material used in the assassination attempt was Gel 90 and was sourced from Wardha. The State Information Technology Minister B. Gopalakrishna Reddy, TDP legislators R. Rajasekhar Reddy and Ch. Krishnamurthy, as well as the driver Srinivasa Raju, were also injured. After an extensive investigation Naidu's survival was attributed to the armored vehicle in which he was traveling.
Defeat in 2004
In 1999, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy launched a campaign targeting rural neglect and promised free electricity to farmers. This move backfired, and TDP's alliance with the BJP, who had just won the Kargil War, won the election. During the period between 1995-1999 the state also witnessed high economic growth in all sectors, and the improvement in the quality of life.
TDP lost the elections in 2004 to the Congress party, under Reddy's leadership. The 2004 defeat was attributed to persistent drought that crippled the rural agriculture economy. Naidu's focus on IT has been cited as a factor in his ignoring traditional economic drivers like agriculture. Many newspapers and opposition leaders criticized him for his obsession with technology, and his unfamiliarity with the problems of the poor; he was also criticized for patronizing the World Bank.
During his tenure, many non-performing government industries were shut down, resulting in the loss of large number of jobs. Property taxes and charges for government services, including registration of fixed assets, were increased fourfold or more, which created financial insecurity in the middle income groups. The movement for a separate Telangana state is also said to have played a major role for the party's loss in the Telangana districts. Factors such as anti-incumbency factors, farmers' suicides, widespread drought, naxalite problems and neglecting rural areas in favour of urban areas are also said to have contributed towards the defeat of TDP in 2004 state assembly elections.
Many of Naidu's initiatives like e-Seva (an eGovernance initiative) are still continuing to improve the transparency and accountability in administration. Several institutions established during Naidu's tenure like International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad, Indian School of Business, Center For Good Governance and HITEC city (which houses several IT companies), along with a modern administration, can be construed to be Naidu's legacy.
* South Asian of the Year - Time Asia 1999
* Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow - January 2006
* IT Indian of the Millennium - India Today 2000
* Business Person of the Year - Economic Times