The Union Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, 72, finds himself at a crossroads, yet again. He is scouting for a “safe” Lok Sabha constituency to win his sixth election, as he is still to decide on contesting from the Chevella constituency in Ranga Reddy district of Andhra Pradesh, which he represents now.
The Congress leader is seriously considering switching over to Mahabubnagar, from where he won in 1998. Interestingly, he is known for hopping constituencies across Telangana in his political career spanning close to 50 years first as a leader of the Janata Party and then of the Congress.
If his debut in the Lok Sabha was from Mahabubnagar in 1984, he represented the same seat in 1998 as a Janata Dal candidate and moved to Miryalaguda to win the 1999 and 2004 elections (Congress).
As the constituency was abolished on delimitation, Mr. Reddy contested from the newly carved-out Chevella in 2009.
In an interview to this correspondent on March 26, 2009, Mr .Reddy tried to clarify that he was not on a constituency-hopping spree. “I had not imposed myself on the Chevella constituency; it was the party high command which had asked me to shift to the new place as Miryalaguda, which I represented earlier, has been abolished after the delimitation,” he said.
But party leaders say he is seriously exploring the possibility of going back to Mahabubnagar after a gap of 18 years, as local leaders, particularly former State Home Minister P. Sabitha Indra Reddy’s son Karthik Reddy, is said to have staked their claim for the Chevella seat.
An active leader during his student days, Mr. Reddy was the Youth Congress State unit president from 1965-71 and won his maiden election to the Kalwakurthy Assembly constituency in 1969. He is a graduate in Journalism and holds a Master’s degree in English Literature from Osmania University.
He quit the Congress in protest against the imposition of the Emergency and joined the Janata Party. He was defeated by the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi from the Medak constituency in 1980. He shifted to national politics in 1984, winning the Mahabubnagar seat as a Janata Party candidate.
Mr. Reddy, who has a chequered political career, was the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha in 1991-92. It was a strange coincidence that this strong critic of the Congress who took on Rajiv Gandhi on the Bofors issue had to join the party in 1999 after the Janata Dal almost disintegrated.
It was during his stint as Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting that the Prasar Bharati Bill was introduced in Parliament to provide autonomy to Doordarshan and All India Radio.
The opening sentence of “Jaipal Reddy at a crossroads, scouts for new constituency” (March 19, 2014) described him as a former Union Minister. Actually, he is still a Minister.