Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was born on 19 May 1913 in Illur village of the State of Andhra Pradesh. He completed his primary education at the Theosophical High School, Adyar, Madras and later joined the Government Arts College in Anantapuram for his higher studies. He eventually dropped out of college to pursue a more active role in the Indian freedom struggle. Reddy’s political career took off when he was elected as a member of the Madras Legislative Assembly.
Role in India’s Independence Movement:
In the pre-independence era, Reddy actively participated in various Youth Congress activities. In 1937, he became the Secretary of the Andhra Provincial Congress Committee (APCC). Due to Reddy’s significant involvement in the Quit India Movement, he was imprisoned several times by the British from 1940 to 1945.
Contribution to Constitution Making:
Reddy was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the Madras Province on a Congress party ticket. He did not make any interventions during the Assembly debates.
Reddy was elected as the President of the APCC in 1951 for a year. Soon after, he served as the Chief Minister of the newly formed state of Andhra Pradesh in 1956. During his tenure as the State leader, he worked towards the development and modernisation of the State and initiated several irrigation projects such as the construction of Nagarjunasagar, Srisailam, Sriramsagar and Vamsadhara dams.
Later, Reddy served as a member of the Rajya Sabha for three terms. In 1964, he joined Lal Bahadur Shastri’s government as the Union Minister for Steel and Mines. He also served as the Minister of Transport, Aviation, Shipping and Tourism in Indira Gandhi’s Government for a short while in 1967.
Reddy was elected to the fourth Lok Sabha (1967) and was subsequently elected as the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. He was the first Member of Parliament in the country to have resigned from his political party upon being appointed as Speaker. The first arrest on the grounds of contempt of the House was made during his tenure as the Speaker. He was known for being an unbiased Spekar who facilitated all members to express their opinions. The Committee of the Welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was set up during his Speakership.
On 25 July 1977, Reddy was elected to be the sixth President of India. At the age of 65, he was the youngest President of the country and the only one to have been elected unopposed.
Reddy passed away in 1996 at the age of 83.
Reddy authored a book titled, ‘Without Fear Or Favour: Reminiscences and Reflections of a President’ detailing his time as the President of India.
- Speeches of President Sanjiva Reddy: January 1, 1980-July 24, 1982
- Whither Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Issued by Telangana Mahasabha
- Without Fear Or Favour: Reminiscences and Reflections of a President, N. Sanjeeva Reddy.