Jaipal Reddy, a politician par excellence

Jaipal Reddy, a politician par excellence

S Jaipal Reddy was a dapper man but strode the State political arena like a Colossus.

S Jaipal Reddy was a dapper man but strode the State political arena like a Colossus. His sudden demise last week has undoubtedly left a huge void and an irreparable loss to the State of Telangana.

The State has lost one of its most distinguished sons who brought laurels to both the Telugu States and the country.

His political career spanning over six decades, in fact, showcases how upright and honest a politician he was, besides uncompromisingly upholding his personal integrity.

He held several key positions under various governments and rendered justice to the job entrusted to him with utmost ease and acumen. His role as Petroleum Minister during Dr Manmohan Singh government and how he had taken on the business tycoon Mukesh Ambani on the issue of doubling of KG basin gas which ultimately resulted his ouster from the Ministry is a well-known fact.

Though he was one of the most prominent and favoured Congressmen, he did not flinch to raise a banner of revolt against Indira Gandhi and joined the Opposition led by Janata Dal.

Later, as Janata Dal leader, he was instrumental in stitching the Opposition against Indira Gandhi when Chief Minister N T Rama Rao was unceremoniously dethroned in 1984.

Through his wide personal contacts with people who matter in national politics, he took the responsibility in garnering the Opposition stalwarts like West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, H M Bahuguna, Janata Dal leader and CPI leader Harikishen Singh Surjeet to launch a nation-wide 'save democracy' movement which helped democratically elected Telugu Desam Party headed by N T Rama Rao, back to power in Andhra Pradesh.

An affable and erudite politician, Jaipal Reddy was a voracious reader and known for his famous quotes which were loaded with wit and humour.

As a cub reporter working for a leading English daily, in fact I had an opportunity to cover several press conferences held by Reddy, as well his firebrand debates in the State Assembly as an Opposition MLA.

He used to express exactly what the news starved reporters were looking for in an era when there was no 24x7 TV channels, nor 'madness' of breaking news phenomenon.

My routine beat was Legislative Assembly. I vividly remember three interesting anecdotes involving Jaipal Reddy during 80s when he was in the Opposition as Janata Dal leader in the State Legislative Assembly.

Interestingly, when T Anjaiah was the Chief Minister, the Assembly sessions used to be lively with great orators like Jaipal Reddy and M Venkaiah Naidu in the Opposition benches. Both these leaders dominated the proceedings of the House.

Poor Anjaiah who quite often made mockery of himself in political circles, like his Jumbo 60-member Cabinet had to do a lot of explanation to the Opposition especially while addressing either Jaipal Reddy or Venkaiah Naidu in the Assembly.

Added to that, Anjaiah also was seen getting confused with these two giants' being at their best. In one such instance, Chief Minister Anjaiah addressing these leaders on an important Bill, said, "Look Jaipal Naidu what I meant was------", much to the amusement of the House.

Jaipal was quick on his toes to react; "When did I change my name?" amidst laughter in the House.

Anjaiah, later in an informal chat with newsmen, tried to justify his gaffe by saying "both of them have same mentality and I wanted to answer in one go"

In another similar occasion, Jaipal Reddy along with senior Congress leaders came to the rescue of T Anjaiah when he lost his cool in the Assembly. That was when Kona Prabhakar Rao was in the Chair as Speaker of the House.

While the Opposition members were seeking a reply from the Chief Minister, the concerned Minister too failed to convince the Opposition. Helpless Anjaiah tried making light of the issue.

There was total pandemonium in the House over the issue and the Speaker pulled up the Chief Minister.

At this stage, Anjaih losing his cool shot back; "I am the Chief Minister and leader of the House. Are you above me" pointing towards the Speaker.

Prabhakar, who was flabbergasted immediately adjourned the House, much to the embarrassment of the ruling party.

The newsmen covering the session were immediately asked to leave the press gallery as there was a political storm in the House. The Assembly doors were closed with everyone inside.

It was Jaipal Reddy along with senior Congress leaders who counselled Anjaiah and also pacified the Speaker. When the House met again, Jaipal Reddy, in all magnanimity, told the Speaker to expunge the remarks of the Chief Minister and requested to move next item on the agenda, as if nothing had happened.

The third instance which I vividly remember was in early 80s. There was a fierce battle for the Presidential candidate when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.

The Congress nominee was Zail Singh, who ironically was facing some charges. The united Opposition put up Koka Subba Rao, former Supreme Court Judge as its Presidential candidate.

It is known fact that the President of India is elected by the members of the Legislative Assembly besides Parliament members.

After the polling process was completed on the Assembly premises, we approached Jaipal Reddy for his reaction. He, in his usual witty style, said, "The choice is between the accused and the judge." Next day it became the headline in many newspapers.

When undivided Andhra Pradesh yet again electrified with Telangana movement in 2012, spearheaded by TRS leader K Chandrasekhar Rao, Jaipal Reddy's name propped up in the media circles as possible successor to Mr Rosaiah, in a bid to placate the sentiments of Telangana region.

Reddy was touted to be Chief Ministerial candidate post bifurcation of the State in 2014 Assembly elections too. However, the Congress tasted its worst ever defeat.

But many political pundits felt Reddy, with his political acumen, would have romped the party home in Telangana had he been the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh instead of Kiran Kumar Reddy.

Jaipal Reddy might have left us, yet his 'great parliamentarian' qualities remain as 'role model' for many aspiring youngsters to imbibe.

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