IN hill-wrapped Naravaripalli, nestling in a lush valley where sugarcane and groundnut grows abundantly, forty-something Rajarathnam Naidu has never seen a computer in his life. So what if he's the brother-in-law of N. Chandrababu Naidu? Life in this quiet outback of 250 villagers in Chittoor district is laidback by the standards of its most famous son. Residents work in the fields in the daytime and watch TV on portable black and white sets after dusk. "I don't even know what a computer is," says the dhoti-clad Naidu, who is married to K. Rajeshwari, the hi-tech chief minister's sister.
But the CM continues to return to the bucolic charms of his native village every year, where's he built his mother a one-storey home outfitted with satellite TV on a one-acre plot. Naidu's paternal home—a simple one-storey three-room tenement tucked away in a corner of the village—from where he went to his college in the bustling temple town Tirupati, some 16 km away—has now been rented out. He also holds around 30 acres of farmland jointly with his brother-in-law and elder brother Ramamurthi Naidu, a legislator from neighbouring Chandragiri. Villagers remember him as a "quiet, pious and studious" child who stayed calm even when provoked. "He comes here every year," says S. Pappama, 60, a wizened homemaker. "But he comes with so many policemen, I don't get a chance to talk to him." Agrees Raja-rathnam: "He makes such quick trips that even I don't get to meet him properly."
But Naravaripalli is decidedly proud of Naidu. A third of the tots attending the village's elementary school with 47 students on its rolls know that he's the CM of the state. Says nine-year-old Nagaraju: "When he comes, he talks to only my father. But I want to talk to him." Eight-year-old Amala, however, insists that Naidu garu is the Indian "president, nothing less." In this modestly prosperous village, where water is plentiful and the land is fertile, none of Naidu's info-tech efforts have arrived. The only village dirt track is now being made concrete, there's electricity 19 hours a day, and the nearest high school is a little over a km away. The nearest primary health centre is about 10 km away. But villagers are a contented lot: parents farm at home, and sons leave for Tirupati to kick off small-scale agro-businesses. Then, of course, Chittoor is the country's second largest milk producing district—some 1,000 milk cooperatives produce 6.5 lakh litres of milk every day. "We are happy," says Naidu's cousin, Chandrasekhar, a farm owner. "The CM doesn't have to worry about us much."
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