Whenever he won, the Congress won too; Koneru Ranga Rao's last rites today

Special Correspondent

He formed a party called ‘Pedala Congress' in 1972 and fought for people in island villages

He worked in governments of Channa Reddy, Bhavanam Venkataram and Vijayabhaskar Reddy

VIJAYAWADA: Koneru Ranga Rao, 74, who breathed his last in Hyderabad on Monday, had a unique distinction during his long political innings. Whenever he won to the Assembly, the Congress came to power and whenever he lost the party failed too.

Born on June 26, 1935 at Gudavalli near Vijayawada, Ranga Rao worked continuously for two decades as sarpanch of the village (1956-77). He formed a party called “Pedala Congress” (Congress of the Poor) in 1972 and fought for the rights of people living in island villages.

He entered the Assembly for the first time in 1978 successfully contesting from Kankipadu, a general constituency, on the ticket of the then Indira Congress.

He worked in the governments of Marri Channa Reddy, Bhavanam Venkataram and Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy between 1978 and 1983, holding the portfolios of housing and social welfare.

He shifted to Nidumolu, a reserved constituency in 1983 but lost to the CPI (M). In the 1985 mid-term elections, he contested from Mudinepalli, a general constituency, and lost once again. In the 1989 general elections, Ranga Rao romped home from Tiruvuru reserved constituency, defeating the TDP.

He once again became a minister in the successive governments of Marri Channa Reddy, N. Janardhan Reddy and Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy. In the last government, he was elevated as Deputy Chief Minister and held the portfolio of home.

During these five years, he held other portfolios of social welfare, housing and endowments.

Ranga Rao lost in succession in 1994 and 1999 from Tiruvuru to N. Swami Das of the TDP, but won from the same constituency in 2004 to become Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development.

During this term, he headed a Cabinet sub-committee on land reforms and made far-reaching recommendations. He chose not to contest in 2009 owing to poor health.

Ranga Rao lost his wife Alisamma a couple of years ago. He is survived by two sons and two daughters.

The elder daughter L. Tantia Kumari is ZPTC member representing Chatrai mandal in Krishna district. Former State Government's Special Representative in Delhi Mallu Ravi is a son-in-law.

The last rites will be performed in Gudavalli on Tuesday.

Among those who expressed grief and sympathies were Minister K. Parthasarathy, who recalled Ranga Rao's commitment to the welfare of the poor, MP Lagadapati Rajagopal, who telephoned the family members and expressed his sympathies, former Minister Kasu Venkata Krishna Reddy, MLA Malladi Vishnu, MLC Ilapuram Venkaiah and PCC secretary Kolanukonda Sivaji.