Sri Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was the sixth President of India. Born in a peasant family at Illuri village in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh on May 19, 1913. Sri Sanjiva Reddy had his early education at the Theosophical High School at Adyar in Madras and later joined the Arts College at Anantapur.
In 1931 he gave up his studies and took part in the freedom movement. At the age of 25, he was elected Secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Provincial Congress Committee and remained in that office for 10 years. Shri Sanjiva Reddy married Shrimati Nagarathnamma on June 8, 1935. He was in prison for a greater part of the period 1940-1945. In 1946 he was elected to the Madras Legislaltive Assembly and became the Secretary of the Madras Congress Legislature Party the following year. In 1947, he became a Member of the Indian Constitutent Assembly.
From April 1949 to April 1951, he was Minister for Prohibition, Housing and Forests for the state of Madras. In 1951, he became the president of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee. In 1952, he was elected Member of the Rajya Sabha. In 1953, he became the deputy chief minister in the Cabinet of the T. Prakasam and he was the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party. He was again elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1955 and became Deputy Chief Minister in B. Gopala Reddi's cabinet.
He became the first Chief Minister to the new State of Andhra Pradesh in October, 1956. In 1959, he resigned the Chief Ministership to take over the Presidentship of the Indian National Congress. In March, 1962, he again became the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. In February 1964, he voluntarily resigned the office of Chief Minister.On June 9, 1964, he was appointed a Member of the Union Cabinet formed by Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri and took over the portfolio of Steel and Mines. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in November, 1964.
Reddy was Union Minister of Transport, Civil Aviation, Shipping and Tourism from January 1966 to March 1967 in the Cabinet formed by Indira Gandhi. He was elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha on March 17, 1967, an office that won him unprecedented acclaim and admiration. After 1969, Shri Reddy devoted his time to agriculture. In March 1977, he fought the Lok Sabha election from Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh as a Janata Party candidate. He was the only non-Congress candidate to get elected from Andhra Pradesh.
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was unanimously elected Speaker of the Lok Sabha on March 26, 1977. He was unanimously sponsored as the consensus candidate for the Presidentship by all political parties, a rare even in recent political history. He was declared elected unopposed on July 21, 1977.