Hailing from north coastal Andhra, the 62-year-old is the lone representative of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in the Modi cabinet.
He has come a long way in politics since he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh assembly as a candidate of the Janata Party in 1978. He joined the TDP floated by actor-turned-politician N.T. Rama Rao in 1982 and served as a state cabinet minister in all the TDP governments.
In a political career spanning nearly 35 years, he was elected to the Andhra Pradesh assembly seven times. A member of the TDP politburo, he is considered close to party chief N. Chandrababu Naidu.
He held the excise and commercial tax portfolios in N.T. Rama Rao's cabinets in 1980s. He was the minister for finance, legislative affairs and revenue in Chandrababu Naidu's cabinets between 1995 and 2004.
Raju served as TDP's deputy leader in the last assembly. Naidu rewarded him for his loyalty by fielding him in the Lok Sabha election. He was elected from Vizianagaram constituency. On his debut in parliament, Raju has become a minister in the central cabinet.