Mallikarjun cremated with State honours

HYDERABAD Dec. 25. The last rites of the former Union Minister and former PCC president, Mallikarjun, were held at Nallagandla village near here on Wednesday with State honours. A large number of followers and senior leaders of the Congress attended the funeral. Mallikarjun died of heart attack on Tuesday evening.

Earlier, rich tributes were paid to the departed leader by politicians cutting across party lines at Gandhi Bhavan. The body was brought to the PCC headquarters in a cortege and kept there for people to pay respects at 11.40 a.m. Moving scenes were witnessed and the gathering raised slogans in favour of Mallikarjun.

Taking every one by surprise the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, directly drove to Gandhi Bhavan, the PCC headquarters, here after returning from Nizamabad around 12.50 p.m. and placed a wreath. Talking to the presspersons, he paid rich tributes to the Congress leader describing him as a good friend and a leader with a vision. "He always worked for the welfare of the State uncompromisingly whether in his capacity as Railway Minister or Defence Minister and remained non-controversial despite his strong views,'' he said.

Other TDP leaders representing Mahbubnagar district, R. Chandrasekhara Reddy, MP, M. Jagannadham, MP, and the Minister for Sports, P. Ramulu, also laid wreaths on the body.

AICC representative and AP incharge of the party affairs, Vayalar Ravi, said Mallikarjun was a mature leader and his death would be a blow to the party. Mallikarjun was a simple person despite the success he had in his life and career, he said.

Before coming to Gandhi Bhavan, Mr. Ravi visited Mallikarjun's house to personally hand over to Mrs. Mallikarjun a letter of condolence sent by the AICC president, Sonia Gandhi. Ms. Gandhi in her letter recalled her recent meeting with Mallikarjun at the party's Warangal meet and expressed deep sorrow over his death.

Mr. Ravi later accompanied the body along with other leaders to Nallagandla village. Others who were present at the Gandhi Bhavan included S. Jaipal Reddy, chief spokesperson of the party, AICC secretary, V. Hanumantha Rao, K. Rosaiah, P. Upendra and MLAs, K.R. Suresh Reddy, A. Indrakaran Reddy, P. Goverdhan Reddy and G. Chinna Reddy, V. Purushottam Reddy, and the BJP leaders, B. Dattatreya and B. Bal Reddy.

In a condolence message, Mr. Upendra said Mallikarjun was a man of few words who began his life as a student leader and later held important positions. Though Mallikarjun held strong views on some issues, he remained non-controversial, he said.

Mr. Dattatreya said Mallikarjun was steadfast in his support for Telangana and a shrewd administrator who strove for the welfare of the people.

Telangana Praja Samithi leaders, at an emergency executive body meeting under the chairmanship of B. Ram Mohan Reddy, expressed profound shock at the sudden demise of Mallikarjun. The TPS appealed to the various groups fighting for the cause of Telangana to unitedly forge a bigger movement to realise the dream of Mallikarjun. The Andhra Pradesh BC Sangham headed by T. Bala Goud, former MP, said that the BCs had lost a protagonist of the BC cause in Mallikarjun's death.