Hyderabad: Former union minister and senior Congress leader from Telangana, S. Jaipal Reddy passed away in the wee hours on Sunday while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Hyderabad.

The five-time member of Lok Sabha, four-time MLA and two-time Rajya Sabha member reportedly died while undergoing treatment for pneumonia. He was aged 77.

Jaipal Reddy, who was known for his oratory skills, held the petroleum portfolio under the UPA-2 government (2009-14), but was shifted to science and technology under controversial circumstances following differences over gas allocation to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), after he reportedly refused to budge to the company’s demands. He was also a union minister under the UPA-1 (2004-09) after winning the Miryalguda seat, and he also won from the Chevella constituency in 2009.

The former union minister is also remembered for capturing the public with his speeches, especially as an MLA from the Kalwakurthy seat (in Mahbubnagar district) for four terms between 1969 and 1984. He however quit the Congress in protest against former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s imposition of the Emergency in 1977, and had joined the Janata Party then led by Jayaprakash Narayan. Jaipal Reddy however rejoined the Congress eventually and was also known to be an upright and honest leader.

"He was gifted with a powerful voice and a varied experience. One of the best parliamentarians from Southern India, his speeches were inspiring. He discharged his duty as union minister very ably adn to the satisfaction of many. He was a prolific writer and a man of public relations, he was a real politican indeed," senior Congress leader and former union minister Jesudas Seelam told Mint.

Both K. Chandrashekhar Rao (KCR) and Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, chief ministers of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, also sent condolence messages after learning about the death of Jaipal Reddy. KCR on Sunday also announced that the last rites of the deceased will be conducted with state honours and instructed Telangana chief secretary S. K. Joshi to make the necessary arrangements. Many senior Congress leaders from the state also paid respects to Jaipal Reddy.

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of former Union Minister Jaipal Reddy. A senior Congress leader, he served as an LS MP 5 times, an RS MP 2 times and as an MLA 4 times. We hope his family and friends find strength in their time of grief," said the Congress’s Twitter handle after news of his death broke on Sunday.

The former veteran leader was also a staunch supporter of Telangana’s statehood, and had participated in agitations between 2009 and 2014 (till it was achieved).

Political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy said that Jaipal Reddy’s death is a huge loss for the Congress in Telangana. “The biggest problem with the Congess is that people who could have thought in the right direction like him are passing away or moving outside for other reasons. Though the party is in the hands of young leaders, it still needs direction. He was a leader who was admired and could speak well," said he added.

Moreover, Raghavendra Reddy also recalled that incumbent chief minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao or KCR (and Telangana Rashtra Samithi supremo) had even offered the position he currently holds before the state was bifurcated in 2014. “KCR had suggested him to become the chief minister before the elections. This is on record. The latter declined the offer," he mentioned. Jaipal Reddy’s body is likely to be cremated on Monday.

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