He was born in a peasant family in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. He completed his primary education at the High School run by Theosophical Society Adyar, Madras. The spiritual atmosphere of the school left a deep impact on Sanjiva's mind. Later on he joined the Government Arts College at Anantapur for his higher studies. The turning point in Reddy's life was Mahatma Gandhi's visit to Anantapur in July 1929. He came under the profound influence of Gandhiji's thoughts, words and actions. He throwed away his foreign clothes and accepted Khadi as his dress. He gave up his studies and joined the Indian Independence Movement.
Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was elected to the Madras Legislaltive Assembly in 1946 and became the Secretary of the Madras Congress Legislature Party. In 1947, he became a Member of the Indian Constituent Assembly. From 1949 to 1951 he was the Minister for Prohibition, Housing and Forests in the combined state of Madras. He was Elected as President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee in 1951. In 1952, and November 1964 he was elected as a Member of the Rajya Sabha. He served as the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in October 1956 and again from 1962 to 1964. He also served as President of the Indian National Congress from 1959 to 1962.
In 1958 the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed upon him by the Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupathi.On June 9, 1964, He was appointed as a Member of the Union Cabinet and he got the portfolio of Steel and Mines. He was Union Minister of Transport, Civil Aviation, Shipping and Tourism from January 1966 to March 1967 in the Cabinet. He was also Elected to the Lok Sabha from Hindupur constituency in Andhra Pradesh. On March 17, 1967, he was elected as the Speaker of Lok Sabha where he won unexceptional, acclaim and appreciation. He again entered active politics in 1975 along with Shri Jayaprakash Narayan.
In March 1977, he won the Lok Sabha seat from Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh. He was the only non-Congress candidate to get elected from Andhra Pradesh. On March 26, 1977 he was again unanimously elected as the Speaker of Lok Sabha.He was elected President by the electoral college in July 1977, and was the only person to be elected President of Indiawithout any opposition. He died in Bangalore, India.
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