S Jaipal Reddy: An able politician who took on the high and mighty

M Somasekhar | Updated on July 28, 2019

S Jaipal Reddy   -  File photo

In a political career spanning over 50 years, Jaipal had come full circle

He stood up firmly to oppose the Emergency, the might of the Reliance Group, and practised clean politics. He  never let his lifelong physical disability to obstruct his journey of grit and determination. This was marked by his exemplary public life.

In the passing of Sudini Jaipal Reddy (77), it would be no exaggeration to say that Indian politics has lost a brilliant Parliamentarian, who packed his speeches with wit, criticism and in-depth information.

It is no wonder that this bespectacled man, who was affected by polio in his childhood, had become a recognised Parliamentarian despite hailing from a backward-village in Mahbubnagar. En route, he shone as a student leader in Osmania University, an orator in the Legislative Assembly in combined Andhra Pradesh, as a Union Minister holding multiple portfolios and as the most vocal spokesperson of opposition parties like the Janata Party and even the coalition government of the United Front.

In a political career spanning over 50 years, Reddy  had come full circle; from a Congress MLA representing Kalwakurthy in 1969 to returning to its fold in 1999.

In between, he joined the Janata Party in 1977 opposing the Emergency and the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He first hit the national limelight by taking on Indira Gandhi in Medak as a Janata Party candidate in 1980. As the Janata Party broke up, he moved to the Janata Dal. He also emerged as one of the prominent faces of the United Front (1996-98). Disillusioned, he  embraced the Congress in 1999, turned a strident critic of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee led NDA-government in Parliament and outside.

He also made a mark with his oratorical skills and political acumen. When the Congress managed to put together the UPA, under Manmohan Singh, Reddy  became the Information and Broadcasting Minister. During the two terms of the UPA, he held the portfolios of Urban Development, Petroleum & Natural Gas and Science and Technology. In addition to contributing to the ministries, his stint as Petroleum Minister was marked with the courage he demonstrated in taking on the mighty Mukesh Ambani.

Student Leader

Born on January 16, 1942, Jaipal Reddy exhibited political ambitions quite early. During his days in Hyderabad’s Osmania University, he was one of the brightest leaders. There were many stories of how he survived an attack for his strident role during the Telangana agitation of 1969-70.

He pursued an MA (English), Diploma in Journalism and Law from the University, during the 1960s when his political skills got him into the Congress with leaders like Marri Channa Reddy, Mallikarjun etc. 

Reddy  was first elected as an MP from Mahbubnagar and went on to become a five-time MP of the Lok Sabha. He was also a  Rajya Sabha MP for two terms. He did not contest in the elections after Telangana was formed in 2014.

He  played a silent yet strong role in leading Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh towards taking the historic decision of dividing Andhra Pradesh and granting separate statehood for Telangana in 2014.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, the Chief Ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, and several other political leaders paid tributes to  Reddy.

Published on July 28, 2019

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