Padmaja Naidu was born in Hyderabad to a Bengali mother and a Telugu father.Her mother was the celebrated poet and Indian freedom fighter, Sarojini Naidu.Her father Mutyala Govindrajulu Naidu was a physician. She had four siblings, Jaisoorya, Leilamani, Aditya and Ranadheera.
At the age of 21, she co-founded the Indian National Congress in the Nizam ruled princely state of Hyderabad. She was jailed for taking part in the "Quit India" movement in 1942.After Independence, she was elected to the Indian Parliament in 1950. In 1956 she was appointed the Governor of West Bengal. She was also associated with the Red Cross and was the chair of the Indian Red Cross from 1971 to 1972.
Early in her life, Padmaja was a close friend of Ruttie Petit who married Muhammad Ali Jinnah, later the founder of Pakistan. Padmaja Naidu had a close relationship with the Nehru family, including with Jawaharlal and his sister, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit. Pandit later told Pupul Jayakar, Indira Gandhi's friend and biographer, that Padmaja Naidu and Nehru lived together for many years. Nehru did not marry Padmaja because he did not want to hurt his daughter, Indira. However, Padmaja never married hoping Nehru would propose one day. After retiring, Padmaja lived until her death in 1975 in a bungalow on the Teen Murti Bhavan estate, Prime minister Nehru's official residence and later a museum dedicated to his memory.
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