Leaders like Venkaiah make the nation alive, Naidu gives priority to principles, party and national interest over personal interests

Ananya Shroff
14 Min Read

Author: Narendra Modi

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Today is the birthday of M. Venkaiah Naidu Guru, former Vice President of India and a symbol of purity in national politics. Venkaiah Naidu ji has turned 75 today. He has always given top priority to national service and public service. I wish him a long and healthy life. He has millions of fans in the country. I also congratulate all his well-wishers and supporters. Venkaiah ji's 75th birthday is a record of the immense achievements of a great personality. His life is a journey of service, dedication and sensitivity, which all countrymen should know about. The ease and humility with which Naidu Guru has overcome the complexities of Indian politics, from his early days in politics to the top post of Vice President, is an example in itself. Due to his eloquence, wit and activism towards development related issues, he has received respect in every party, rising above party politics.

**Editorial: Photo taken by @MVenkaiahNaidu on Tuesday, June 25, 2024** New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu during a meeting in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)(PTI06_25_2024_000173B)

Venkaiah ji and I have been associated with each other for decades. We have worked together for a long time handling different responsibilities and I have learnt a lot from him in every role. I have seen, his affection and love for the people never diminished at every stage of his life. Venkaiah ji joined active politics as a student leader in Andhra Pradesh. He left a distinct mark of talent, oratory and organisational skills in his first stint in politics. He could have got a big position in any political party in a short time. But he preferred to work with the Sangh Parivar, because he believed in the vision of nation first. He kept this idea above personal interests and later strengthened the Jan Sangh and BJP.

Nearly 50 years ago, when the Congress imposed Emergency in the country, young Venkaiah actively participated in the anti-Emergency movement. He had to go to jail for inviting Loknayak JP to Andhra. In the mid-1980s, when the Congress unfairly dismissed the great NTR government, he was again in the forefront of the movement to protect democratic principles.

In the 1990s, the BJP central leadership recognised Venkaiah garu's hard work and efforts and appointed him the party's All India General Secretary. This was the beginning of his stint in national politics in 1993. For a man who used to prepare for the visits of Atal Ji and Advani Ji in his teens, what a milestone it was. As the party general secretary, he had only one goal – to bring the BJP to power! His only resolve was to get the country its first BJP Prime Minister. After coming to Delhi, it was the result of his hard work that he never looked back. Soon after, he also became the national president of the party. In the year 2000, when Atal Ji was forming the government, he wanted to make Venkaiah garu a minister in his government. When Atal Ji asked him about his wish, Venkaiah garu chose the Rural Development Ministry. His selection surprised many then. Because, before that, the first choice of leaders used to be other ministries. But, Venkaiah garu's thinking was very clear. He was a farmer's son, he spent his childhood days in villages and hence, if there was one area he wanted to work in, it was rural development. As a minister at that time, he played a key role in bringing the 'Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana' to the ground. When the NDA government was formed in 2014, he handled important ministries like urban development, housing and urban poverty alleviation. It was during his tenure that we launched the 'Swachh Bharat Mission' and many important schemes related to urban development. Perhaps, he is one of those leaders who has worked for both rural and urban development for such a long time.

In those early days of 2014, Venkaiah ji's experience was very useful to me. I had come to Delhi from outside then. I had worked in Gujarat for about a decade and a half. At such a time, Venkaiah ji's support was very important for me. He was an effective Parliamentary Affairs Minister. He understood the nuances of the ruling party and the opposition in the House. Also, when it came to parliamentary decorum and rules, he seemed equally clear about the rules.

In 2017, our alliance made him the Vice Presidential candidate. It was a difficult and dilemmatic decision for us. We knew that it would be very difficult to contest in place of Venkaiah Garu. But we also knew that there was no better candidate than him for the post of Vice President. I can never forget the speech he gave while resigning from the post of minister and MP. He could not hold back his tears when he recalled his association with the party and the efforts he made to build it. This shows his deep commitment and passion. On becoming the Vice President, he took many such steps which further increased the dignity of this post. He was an excellent Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, who ensured that young MPs, women MPs and first-time MPs got a chance to speak. He laid great emphasis on attendance in the House, made the committees more effective. He also raised the level of debate in the House. When the decision to remove Article 370 and 35 (A) was introduced in the Rajya Sabha, Venkaiah Garu was the Chairman. I am sure it must have been an emotional moment for him. The youth who devoted his life to Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee's resolution of one constitution, one flag, one leader, was occupying the post of Speaker on the fulfillment of that dream. What could be a greater moment in the life of a devoted patriot!

Venkaiah garu is also an avid reader and writer. Among Delhiites, he is known as the man who brought the fabulous Telugu culture to the city. The Ugadi and Sankranti events organised by him are apparently one of the most loved celebrations in the city. I have always known Venkaiah garu as a man who loves food and knows how to host in a great way. But, of late, his sobriety has become apparent for all to see. His commitment to fitness is reflected by the fact that he still loves to play badminton and go for brisk walks.

Even after completing his term as Vice President, Venkaiah Garu is very active in public life. He keeps talking to me about the issues and development work important for the country. Recently, when our government returned to power for the third time, I met him. He was very happy and wished me and our team all the best. I wish him all the best once again. I hope that young activists, elected representatives and all those who have the passion to serve will learn from his life and adopt those values. It is people like Venkaiah Garu who make our country better and vibrant.

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