Thinking man’s politician Jaipal Reddy is no more

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister S. Jaipal Reddy ‑ who had been elected to the Lok Sabha five times, the Rajya Sabha twice and the Assembly of undivided Andhra Pradesh four times – is no more.

Reddy died at a hospital in Hyderabad in the early hours of Sunday. The 77-year-old was recently diagnosed with pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital, where he died at 1.28 am on Sunday.

Reddy has been a parliamentarian for several decades and held key portfolios in various governments.

In his tribute, President Ram Nath Kovind described him as a “thinking man’s politician”. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called him “a friend who was a treasure of wisdom and knowledge”.

The Congress, in a tweet, said it was saddened to hear the passing of Jaipal Reddy. “We hope his family and friends find strength in their time of grief.”

“Deeply saddened and pained by the sudden demise of Jaipal Raddy,” Congress’ Telangana unit chief Uttam Kumar Reddy said, describing the party veteran as an outstanding orator, great human being and intellectual giant.

“Huge personal loss to me and the entire Congress party. We will miss him,” Kumar Reddy added.

Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) working president KT Rama Rao, son of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, also condoled the death.

“My condolences to the family & friends of senior leader & Former union minister Shri #JaipalReddy Garu who passed away earlier today. RIP Sir (sic),” he tweeted.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi also tweeted his condolences, praising Jaipal Reddy for his dedication towards public service. He called Reddy “an outstanding parliamentarian, great son of Telangana” who “dedicated his entire life towards public service.”

Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “I’m sorry to hear about the sad demise of former Union Minister & veteran Congress leader Shri Jaipal Reddy Garu. My deepest condolences to his family & friends.”

Before joining the Congress, he was the spokesperson for the National Front and the United Front governments and the voice of the Janta Dal, especially when it was faced with a leadership crisis because of factional feuds.

In the late 1990s, he was made the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the United Front government when it was led by the late I.K. Gujral.

He started out as a student leader of Osmania University and became a Congress MLA in the 1970s. Later, when former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi imposed the Emergency in 1975, he quit the Congress in protest and joined the Janata Party and contested against her in Medak in 1980.

He lost the election but he had proved himself to be a politician who was ready to fight for the right causes, someone who never allowed his physical disability to come in the way of his conviction.

In 1984, when the Congress had swept the Lok Sabha election, he was a key voice of the Opposition in the lower House of Parliament, as the general secretary of the Janata Party (that later split and becamethe Janata Dal).

His oratorical skills in Parliament earned him the Best Parliamentarian Award in 1998. A year later, he rejoined the Congress following the failure of various coalitions that had come together on the glue of anti-Congressism.

“Behind every word that he spoke or wrote, there was deep scholarship and a passion that was remarkable,” said former Union Minister P. Chidambaram.

Reddy was the information and broadcasting minister in IK Gujral government. During the UPA-1 government he held portfolios like urban development and culture.

In UPA-2, he was again assigned the urban development ministry. Later, he became the minister of petroleum and natural gas but was shifted to the science and technology and earth sciences ministries, creating a political storm.

Reddy’s funeral was due to take place on Monday.

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