Yerran Naidu: fighter and mass leader

Born in a farmer's family in a remote village, Kinjarapu Yerran Naidu went on to emerge as one of Andhra Pradesh's tallest politicians. The 55-year-old, who died in a road accident in his native Srikakulam district early Friday, was the Telugu Desam Party's (TDP) most familiar face in the national arena.

A four-time member of parliament and a member of Andhra Pradesh assembly as many times, he always remained loyal to the party which he joined at its inception.

He was in the forefront of the TDP's protests on people's issues. An affable person, he was always accessible to people in his constituency.

Born on Feb 23, 1957, at Nimmada in Srikakulam district in north coastal Andhra, Yerran naidu came up the hard way and went on to become one of the most popular leaders in the backward region.

The leadership qualities in him were evident in his student days. Yerran Naidu, who obtained a law degree from the Andhra University in Visakhapatnam, joined the TDP in 1982 when it was floated by popular Telugu actor N.T. Rama Rao.

In 1983, he was elected to the state assembly from Harishchandrapuram in his native district. Belonging to Koppula Velama, a backward caste in the region, he was re-elected in 1985. Denied a TDP ticket in 1989, he fought as an independent and was re-elected to the assembly. He later returned to the party fold and was elected for the fourth consecutive term in 1994.

He backed Chandrababu Naidu when the latter led a revolt against N.T. Rama Rao and became chief minister in 1995. He was the government chief whip from 1995 to 1996.

Popularly known as Yeranna among TDP circles, he was fielded by the party in 1996 parliamentary elections. Elected to the Lok Sabha from Srikakulam constituency, he emerged a key TDP leader in national politics. With TDP joining the United Front government, Naidu became a minister at the centre, holding the portfolio of rural development and employment.

He retained the Lok Sabha seat in the1998 and 1999 elections. Two days before polling in the 2004 elections, he survived an assassination bid by Maoists in Srikakulam district. Re-elected  to parliament, he was made the party leader in the Lok Sabha.

In the 2009 elections, Yerran Naidu was defeated by the Congress party's K. Krupa Rani, who was inducted into the union ministry last Sunday.

A leader with in-depth knowledge of various issues, Yerran Naidu was a bitter critic of the Congress party and led a fight against alleged 'misrule' and 'corruption' when Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was chief minister.

He had also filed a petition in the high court against Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy's alleged illegal assets, which led to the court ordering a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Yerran Naidu is survived by his wife Vijaya Kumari, a daughter and a son.

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