Early life and political career
Naidu was born in Naravari Palle , a village near Chandragiri 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.
After losing the election from Chandragiri in 1983 on a Congress party ticket, he resigned from the Congress and joined the Telugu Desam Party founded by his father-in-law Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao , and was elected again to the State Legislature from the Kuppam constituency of the Chittoor district in 1989 on a Telugu Desam Party ticket.
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.
In 1995, Naidu was successful in defecting a large number of his party MLAs against the party president and his father-in-law N. T. Rama Rao . He had sensed a challenge from Lakshmi Parvathi, second wife of N. T. Rama Rao , for the Chief Ministership, and hence engineered a rebellion in the party by defecting a large number of MLAs into his cadre. The AP Media moghal Mr. Ramoji Rao, helped large extent to take over reigns from his father-in-law. He kept his flock in order, and was sworn in as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh on 1 September 1995. This whole episode still remains as a black mark in his career with his opponents terming it as a 'back stabbing' of his own father-in-law.
On the rural front he launched schemes like "Janmabhoomi", a project encouraging people to be part of the development of the state.However, he attracted criticism for neglecting the agricultural sector, which accounts for more than 70% of the state's population.
2003 assassination attempt
On October 1, 2003, Naidu survived 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 of the Indian National Congress 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.
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.
During his tenure, many non-performing government industries were shut down reducing the wasteful expenditure.The movement for a separate Telangana state played a major role for the party's loss in the Telangana districts. The main reason for his defeat in 2004 was the alliance of the Congress with the TRS (which has more than a 25% vote base in Telangana), CPI , CPM and other parties. Factors such as anti-incumbency, farmers' suicides, widespread drought, naxalite problems and neglecting rural areas in favour of urban areas are also said to have played some role in the defeat of the TDP in the 2004 State Assembly elections.