Rao Bahadur Sir Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu (1875 – 1942) was an Indian lawyer, professor, politician and Justice Party leader who served as the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from April 1, 1937 to July 14, 1937. He was the last Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from the Justice Party.

Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu hailed from the Eluru, Godavari district of Madras Presidency. He graduated from Rajahmundry Arts College, the Madras Christian College, Madras Law Collegeand Madras University and served as the Professor of Physics at Rajahmundry Arts College.

Reddy Naidu joined the Justice Party in 1919-1920 and was a part of T. M. Nair’s delegation to the United Kingdom. Later, when a Justice Party government was formed in Madras, Reddy Naidu served under A. Subbarayalu Reddiar and the Raja of Panagal as Minister of Development. In 1923, the Raja of Panagal replaced Reddy Naidu as Minister of Development with T. N. Sivagnanam Pillai.

Reddy Naidu served as India’s agent to the Republic of South Africa from 1929 to 1932 and acted as the Governor of Madras from June 18, 1936 to October 1, 1936. He was selected as Chief Minister on April 1, 1937 and served in this capacity till July 14, 1937. He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of Annamalai University in 1940. Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu died in 1942.

Early life:

Reddy Naidu was a native of Eluru in Madras Presidency and belongs to a prominent Telaga Naidu Family, who served as Commander-in-Chief in Indian Army. His mother tongue wasTelugu. He seems to have had a varied education, attending the Government Arts College inRajahmundry , the Madras Christian College , the Madras Law College and the Madras University. Before joining the Bar in 1900, he was a Professor of Physics at the Government Arts College , Rajahmundry . After serving on various local and district boards between 1901 and 1919, he entered the national political arena in 1919 – 1920.

Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu hailed from the Eluru district of Madras Presidency. He graduated from Rajahmundry Arts College, the Madras Christian College, Madras Law College andMadras University and served as the Professor of Physics at Rajahmundry Arts College.

Reddy Naidu joined the Justice Party in 1919-1920 and was a part of T. M. Nair’s delegation to the United Kingdom. Later, when a Justice Party government was formed in Madras, Reddy Naidu served under A. Subbarayalu Reddiar and the Raja of Panagal as Minister of Development. In 1923, the Raja of Panagal replaced Reddy Naidu as Minister of Development with T. N. Sivagnanam Pillai.

Reddy Naidu served as India’s agent to the Republic of South Africa from 1929 to 1932 and acted as the Governor of Madras from June 18, 1936 to October 1, 1936. He was selected as Chief Minister on April 1, 1937 and served in this capacity till July 14, 1937. He also served as the Vice-Chancellor of Annamalai University in 1940. Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu died in 1942.

Early Political Career:

Naidu was a member of the Justice Party right from its inception. He was a member of the delegation to England along with Dr. T. M. Nair and Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar in July 1918.[1]In 1919, he led the non-Brahmin deputation to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Reddy Naidu was an active partyman and when the Montagu Chelmsford Reforms were passed in 1919, Reddy Naidu formulated a set of activities that the Justice Party should follow.

“Social legislation has to be undertaken and inequitious laws that, for ages, maintained an invidious distinction between Brahmins and non-Brahmins, with regard to marriage, adoption and inheritance nd the like, must be altered. Outside the sphere of politics, the work before us is equally onerous. Social reconstruction must be taken in hand at once. Social equality must be established. The strain of untouchability shall be removed. The dictates of priestcraft must be silenced. Paracheries must be purified. Agraharams must be humanized. The hold of humiliating customs and rituals must be unloosed. The partals of temples must be thrown broad open. The contents of sealed scriptures should be brought to light

In December 1920, when the Justice Party was elected to power in Madras Presidency, Naidu won a set in the Madras Legislative Council and served as the Minister of Development. He also served as the Minister of Industries in the government of the Raja of Panagal from 1921 to 1923, when he was dropped in favor of T. N. Sivagnanam Pillai. He remained neutral when a vote of no-confidence was passed against the government of the Raja of Panagal.

In 1924, when the Muddiman Committee came to India to assess the implementation and progress of dyarchy, K. V. Reddy Naidu explained its progress thus:

“I was a Minister of Development without the forests. I was a Minister of Agriculture minus Irrigation. As a Minister of Agriculture I had nothing to do with the Madras Agriculturists Loan Act or the Madras Land Improvement Loans Act… The efficacy and efficiency of a Minister of Agriculture without having anything to do with irrigation, agricultural loans, land improvement loans and famine relief, may better be imagined than described. Then again, I was Minister of Industries without factories, boilers, electricity and water power, mines or labor, all of which are reserved subjects”

In 1928, Reddy Naidu was a member of the Indian delegation to the League of Nations, Geneva.

In January 1929, Naidu succeeded V. S. Srinivasa Sastri as British India’s agent to the Republic of South Africa. In January 1930, he came under severe criticism from the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) for not having done enough to protect the interests of the Indians migrants. In February 1930, the first reading of the TALT (Amendment) Bill was passed. The South African Indian Congress was severely opposed to the Bill and Reddy Naidu spoke at a meeting of the SAIC in October 1930 expressing his outrage. He was a member of the delegation which participated in the Second Round Table Conference with the representatives of the South African Government on January 4, 1932. Reddy Naidu’s term came to an end on August 3, 1932 and he was succeeded by Kunwar Maharaj Singh.

On leaving South Africa , he took up various positions in the Indian Government. He became a member of the Council of State from 1933–1934, and a member of the Governor’s Executive Council, Madras , 1934 -1937. In between, he was Acting Governor of Madras from June-October 1936.

Naidu was the Chief Minister of Madras Presidency from April 1, 1937 to July 14, 1937. The 1937 assembly elections were held and the results declared in February 1937. Despite being the majority party in the Assembly and the Council, the Indian National Congress was hesitant to form a Government because of the veto powers given to the governor. The Governor of Madras, Lord Erskine, decided to form an interim provisional Government with non-members and opposition members of the Legislative Assembly. V. S. Srinivasa Sastri was first offered the Chief Ministership of the interim government but he refused to accept it. Then Erskine formed an interim government with Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu as Chief Minister on 1 April 1937. However the ministry was short lived as the Congress was persuaded to form the government. On 14 July, Naidu resigned and Rajaji became Chief Minister.

He was also the Vice-Chancellor of Annamalai University from 1940. Annamalai University offers a prize every year in his name as The Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu Prize.


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