1 June 1996 — Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, sixth President of India, passed away

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The sixth President of India, serving from 1977 to 1982, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was born on 18 May, 1913, into a peasant family in the Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh. He completed his primary education at the High School run by Theosophical Society Adyar, Madras. The spiritual atmosphere of the school left a deep impact on Sanjiva’s mind. Later on he enrolled himself in Government Arts College at Anantapur for his higher studies. Reddy’s turning point was when Mahatma Gandhi visited Anantapur in July 1929. He came under the profound influence of Gandhi’s thoughts, words and actions. He accepted Khadi as his dress and threw away his foreign clothes and also gave up his studies and joined the Indian Independence Movement.

In 1946, Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was appointed to the Madras Legislative Assembly and became the Secretary of the Madras Congress Legislature Party. In 1947, he became a Member of the Indian Constituent Assembly. From 1949 to 1951 he was elected as the Minister for Prohibition, Housing and Forests in the combined state of Madras. In 1951, he was elected as President of the Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee. In 1952, and November 1964 he was elected as a Member of the Rajya Sabha. He served as the first chief minister of Andhra Pradesh in October 1956 and again from 1962 to 1964. He also served as President of the Indian National Congress from 1959 to 1962.

In 1958 the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws was bestowed upon him by the Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupathi. On June 9, 1964, he was appointed as a Member of the Union Cabinet and he got the portfolio of Steel and Mines. He became the Union Minister of Transport, Civil Aviation, Shipping and Tourism from January 1966 to March 1967 in the Cabinet. He was also elected to the Lok Sabha from Hindupur constituency in Andhra Pradesh. On March 17, 1967, he was elected as the Speaker of Lok Sabha where he won unexceptional, acclaim and appreciation. He again entered active politics in 1975 along with Shri Jayaprakash Narayan.

In March 1977, he won the Lok Sabha seat from Nandyal constituency in Andhra Pradesh. He was the only non-Congress candidate to get elected from Andhra Pradesh. On March 26, 1977 he was again unanimously elected as the Speaker of Lok Sabha. He was elected as a President by the Electoral College in July 1977, and was the only person to be appointed as the President of India without any opposition. In June, 1996, Reddy was hospitalised due to chest infection and passed away at the age of 83 in Bangalore, India.

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