Veteran Congress leader and former federal minister S Jaipal Reddy died after a brief illness in Hyderabad yesterday, his family said. He was 77.
Reddy died at 1:30am at a hospital, where he was admitted recently and was diagnosed with pneumonia. He is survived by two sons and a daughter.
Born in Mahabubnagar district of Telangana, Reddy was elected to the Lok Sabha five terms and was also a member of the Rajya Sabha for two terms.
From a student leader who rose from Andhra Pradesh’s Osmania University, Reddy made his own mark in the national politics. He took on former prime minister Indira Gandhi in then Andhra Pradesh’s Medak constituency in the 1980 Lok Sabha polls after quitting the Congress protesting against emergency.
Despite losing, Reddy established himself as a gritty, uncompromising politician who never allowed his affliction with polio to affect him.
He was one of the main voices in the opposition when the Congress swept the 1984 Lok Sabha elections and was general secretary of the Janata Party.
Reddy took on the Congress governments firing salvos at corruption scandals. He represented Mahbubnagar in 1984 and later got elected from Miryalguda (1999 and 2004) and Chevella in 2009. He emerged as one of the main architects of the coalition politics and played a crucial part in the formation of United Front government and also become a minister in the Inder Kumar Gujral’s cabinet.
His oratory skills earned him the best parliamentarian award in 1998 and he became a well-known face being a spokesperson of the parties he represented including the United Front.
His political life took another turn when he returned to the Congress and became a minister in Manmohan Singh’s cabinet in 2004.
He handled ministries of Information and Broadcasting, Urban Development and Culture. In the second stint of United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, his removal from the petroleum ministry stirred a political storm as he was shifted to the ministry of science and technology and earth sciences.
He retreated from the national political scene after the Congress was wiped out in 2014.
Reddy himself lost from Mahbubnagar, and confined himself to Telangana politics but could not revive the Congress’ fortunes in the state.