Two distinguished sons of Andhra receive Padma Vibhushan

New Delhi/Hyderabad, April 1 (IANS) Former Vice President Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu and popular Telugu actor Konidela Chiranjeevi are the two distinguished sons of Andhra Pradesh who received the Padma Vibhushan on Monday.

While Venkaiah Naidu received the second-highest civilian award for exceptional and distinguished service in public affairs, Chiranjeevi was honoured for his contributions to the field of art.

Naidu, 74, served as the Vice President from 2017 to 2022 and continues to serve people through Swarna Bharat Trust.

A quick-witted and effective communicator steeped in RSS-BJP ideology, he rose from the ranks to become the BJP President and a Union Minister to finally become India’s Vice President.

Hailing from Nellore district in south coastal Andhra, Naidu was associated with the RSS from an early age. He was also a student leader and later championed the cause of farmers.

Born on July 1, 1949, Naidu pursued law and was involved in the movement launched by Jayaprakash Narayan and formed the Loknayak Jai Prakash Chhatra Sangharsha Samithi in 1974. He was President of the youth wing of the Janata Party in Andhra Pradesh from 1977 to 1980 and jailed during the Emergency (1975-77). He remained underground until his arrest, distributing anti-government literature in educational institutions in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

When the Janata Party was formed on the eve of the 1977 general elections, he became the state President of the Janata Yuva Morcha. Contesting his maiden election as a Janata Party candidate, he was elected to the state Assembly in 1978 from Udayagiri in the Nellore district. After a three-year stint, he joined the BJP in 1980. Naidu was re-elected to the state Assembly in 1983 and was the floor leader of the three-member BJP group in the house in 1980-85. He also became Vice President of BJP’s youth wing. He was leader of the BJP Legislature Party in Andhra Pradesh, state General Secretary and state unit chief.

Naidu hit the national scene in the early 1980s when he was one of the prominent opposition spokespersons during the campaign by N.T. Rama Rao after his dismissal as the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister by Indira Gandhi. He held the position of BJP General Secretary in 1993-2000 and its spokesperson in between. Though he later emerged as a BJP leader at the national level and served as the party’s General Secretary and its spokesman, he could not get elected to Lok Sabha. He contested thrice but was unsuccessful.

He handled key organisational assignments in the BJP and became its President in 2002. Naidu had three continuous terms in the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka from 1998 to 2016, when he shifted to Rajasthan to get a fourth term. He was the Rural Development Minister during the first NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, his inspiration along with senior party leader L.K. Advani.

Naidu was the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development and Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation of the Modi government before he was nominated for the Vice President’s post. He was also the Parliamentary Affairs Minister for the first two years of the Modi government.

Chiranjeevi is one of the most popular actors in south India and the top actor of the Telugu film industry, or Tollywood.

Popular in both the Telugu states and known for his acting brilliance, he was previously honoured with Padma Bhushan.

Known as ‘Megastar’, Chiranjeevi acted in over 150 films in a career spanning four decades. He also acted in a few Tamil, Hindi and Kannada films.

Chiru, as he is popular among his fans, is also known for his philanthropic work. He runs Chiranjeevi Blood and Eye Banks. Last seen in “Waltair Veeraiya”, he is currently working on his 156th film titled “Viswambhara”.

Born Konidela Sivasankara Varaprasad on August 22, 1955, in Mogalthur village in West Godavari district, he began his acting career with the film “Punadhiralu” in 1978.

Riding on his popularity, Chiranjeevi floated the Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) in 2008. However, his political career ended in a disaster with the PRP coming a cropper in the 2009 elections. He later merged the party with Congress and served as Minister of Culture and Tourism (Independent charge) in the Manmohan Singh-led government between 2012 and 2014. After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the defeat of Congress, he distanced himself from politics and resumed working in movies.

The third recipient of the Padma award from Andhra Pradesh is D. Uma Maheshwari. She was conferred Padma Shri in the Arts category for Harikatha.

The 63-year-old is the first female Harikatha storyteller to perform in Sanskrit, breaking traditional barriers and keeping the storytelling tradition alive for four decades. She penned over four Harikathas, covering figures like Ramana Maharshi and Potti Sriramulu. Her contribution encouraged many young girls to break free from traditional barriers and embrace the art form.



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