Jaipal Reddy, May Your Soul Rest in Peace!

Jaipal Reddy, May Your Soul Rest in Peace!

President of India Ram Nath Kovind referred to Sudini Jaipal Reddy as a thinking persons’ politician and an outstanding parliamentarian.

President of India Ram Nath Kovind referred to Sudini Jaipal Reddy as a thinking persons' politician and an outstanding parliamentarian.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Jaipal Reddy was an effective administrator. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu described Reddy as "razor sharp intellect" and man with "biting wit. A tireless champion of the vulnerable and marginalised sections."

Certainly, the country has lost another stalwart in Indian politics. The character of the State legislatives and Parliament would see some change if the present-day politicians at least try to emulate him a little.

Unfortunately, the kind of reactions that were seen and heard from these leaders were disappointing. They never went beyond saying he was a great parliamentarian and that he played a crucial role in bifurcation of the State.

Reddy's limited physical mobility due to polio never deterred him from achieving political heights. He was Lok Sabha MP for five terms, a member of Rajya Sabha for two terms and was a four-term MLA.

In an informal chat with me recently, Jaipal Reddy, walking down the memory lane, recalled his good old student days and said in the initial stages he was under the influence of C Rajagopalachari, the last Governor General of India.

He was an avid reader of books and all available newspapers like the Statesman of Kolkata standing in front of a newsstand adjacent to Taj Mahal Hotel at Abids.

He was more interested in extracurricular activities like debates and that helped him to catapult into a man who could express his thoughts freely, crisply and clearly and attain command over language.

In 1963, he became a member of the Political Students' Organisation and was later elected as the president of the students' union. It was during student days, he came into contact with PV Narasimha Rao who was a "devotee to the extent of being a fanatic" of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

At this point of his life, Jaipal switched over to Nehruvian ideology. As president of students' union, he had the privilege to invite Morarji Desai, who at that time had resigned from Nehru's Cabinet, for a function.

In 1964, he brought Ram Manohar Lohia to Osmania University. That was the time when anti-Hindi agitation was at its peak. The DGP had advised him to cancel the meeting.

But he refused and the DGP sent 10 troops of police. Jaipal Reddy said he told the DGP to withdraw the forces if peace was to prevail. Lohia came, spoke in Hindi and there was no trouble.

I, as a young reporter used to meet him regularly when he became a member of Lok Sabha and general secretary of the Janata Party. The party office used to be on the second floor of a heritage building in Janpath area.

There was no lift. Reddy used to drive a Maruti 800 car specially made for physically handicapped and used to climb the stairs to his office.

On one such day while going up the staircase, he told me that when N T Rama Rao became the Chief Minister of united Andhra Pradesh, he wanted him to join his government as a Minister. He told NTR, "I can be your friend and advisor, but I cannot work with you in your Cabinet.

The reason is neither of us budge from our line of thinking and that will lead to unnecessary friction and problems." NTR understood what Jaipal meant and said he would prefer to be his well-wisher" and advised him from time to time.

When Jaipal used to speak, the entire Lok Sabha including leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi used to listen to him with rapt attention.

He never lost his cool but as Venkaiah Naidu rightly described, he had razor sharp rhetoric. He never encouraged his family members entering politics.

In the past two years, he felt he was an odd man out in today's politics. The kind of discipline and commitment that one used to witness in the past was not there now, he used to lament.

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