Congress leader Venkatswamy is dead

Hyderabad: Congress leader and former union minister G. Venkatswamy died Monday at a private hospital here following prolonged illness, party leaders said. He was 85.

Known as Kaka among his supporters, Venkatswamy served as a minister in the cabinets of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and P.V. Narasimha Rao. The octogenarian leader from Telangana was elected to the Lok Sabha for seven terms, the last being in 2004.

A key leader from the Scheduled Castes, he also served as a minister in Andhra Pradesh. Venkatswamy headed the Andhra Pradesh unit of the party and also held key posts in the party at the Centre. He served as a member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and deputy leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.

Sulking ever since the party overlooked his claim for the post of president of India, Venkatswamy targeted Sonia Gandhi in 2011, and blamed her for the mounting corruption and sliding fortunes of the party. He also demanded her resignation, saying only people born in India should become president of the party.

Venkatswamy was a strong supporter of the demand for a separate state of Telangana and had hailed the party's decision taken last year to bifurcate Andhra Pradesh. He is survived by two sons and three daughters. His eldest son G. Vinod was a minister in the state cabinet while his other son G. Vivekananda served as a parliamentarian.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, governor of the two states E.S.L. Narasimhan, YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy condoled Venkatswamy's death.

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