Chandrababu Naidu confidant, women’s rights advocate Ram Mohan is youngest minister in Modi 3.0


Hyderabad: His father Kinjarapu Yerran Naidu was the youngest Union cabinet minister in 1996. Now, 28 years later, K Ram Mohan Naidu, TDP sources say, has broken his father’s record by becoming the youngest cabinet minister in the NDA government.

An electrical engineer who studied at Purdue University, a recipient of the Sansad Ratna Award in 2020, an advocate of women’s rights — Ram Mohan Naidu, 36, took oath as Union cabinet minister alongside Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday evening in New Delhi.

The BJP’s principal ally and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) supremo Chandrababu Naidu has nominated the hat-trick Lok Sabha MP to the Modi 3.0 cabinet, which party leaders said is recognition of his allegiance to the party and a reflection of his deep ties with the Naidu family.

Ram Mohan was born on 18 December 1987 in Nimmada village near Srikakulam in Andhra Pradesh’s Uttarandhra region, a TDP stronghold traditionally. 

Though he shares the same Naidu suffix as Chandrababu, a Kamma, Ram Mohan is from a Backward Caste in Andhra Pradesh.  

Srikakulam, the northernmost Lok Sabha segment, has been with the Kinjarapu family and the TDP since 1996, barring 2009 when Congress’s Killi Krupa Rani trounced the four-time MP Yerran Naidu.

Yerran Naidu, a close confidant of Naidu, served as a cabinet minister managing rural affairs in the HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral governments between 1996 and 1998. He was an MLA and a state minister too.  

Ram Mohan did his schooling from Delhi Public School, RK Puram, and his undergraduate studies in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, followed by an MBA from Long Island.

After studies, Ram Mohan was pursuing a corporate career in Singapore when father Yerran Naidu died in a car crash in 2012. A mass leader and a staunch Naidu backer, Yerran Naidu’s death was seen as a major blow to the TDP, in the opposition at the time.    

The tragic event propelled Ram Mohan into politics. On a TDP ticket, he won as Lok Sabha MP from Srikakulam in 2014, making a mark as the second youngest MP in the 16th Lok Sabha. He retained his seat in 2019, when the TDP’s strength in the lower house fell to three amid the Jagan Mohan Reddy wave.

This time, Ram Mohan won from Srikakulam for the third consecutive time, defeating Tilak Perada of the YSRCP with a handsome majority of over 3.27 lakh votes. 

Ram Mohan’s uncle, Yerran Naidu’s brother K. Atchannaidu is the state TDP chief, a senior MLA and a former minister.

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Closeness to Chandrababu, a women’s rights advocate

TDP leaders say Ram Mohan’s close association with Chandrababu is noteworthy. Considered one of his biggest loyalists, akin to his father Yerran Naidu, Ram Mohan accompanies the TDP chief on all his visits to Delhi, aiding him in navigating the intricacies of national politics.

When Chandrababu was arrested in the skill development scam case last year, Ram Mohan played a pivotal role alongside TDP general secretary Nara Lokesh in Delhi, seeking support and solidarity from key leaders.

A national general secretary of the TDP, Ram Mohan was a member of the standing committees on agriculture, animal husbandry, and food processing, railways and home affairs, was part of the Consultative Committee on Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Committee on Welfare of Other Backward Classes, and the Department of Official Language.

A regular in Lok Sabha debates, discussions, his decision to take paternity leave during the 2021 budget session during his wife’s pregnancy sparked a discussion on gender rights and education. The MP also advocated for menstrual health education and sex education in Parliament, and has actively campaigned for the removal of GST on sanitary pads.

Party leaders also recollect that during a discussion on the Disha rape case of Hyderabad in Parliament in 2019, Ram Mohan gave a stirring speech supporting women’s dignity and rights. His firm stance that “when a woman says no, it’s a no” resonated deeply in the house, with even Congress leader Sonia Gandhi applauding his fervent defence of women’s civil liberties.

(Edited by Gitanjali Das)

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