Hyderabad: President Pranab Mukherjee Monday paid rich tributes to former president Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, describing him as a role model in government and politics.
Addressing the concluding programme of the birth centenary celebrations of the late leader at Anantapur, the president said Sanjeeva Reddy combined three good qualities of a party leader, an administrator and a parliamentarian.
"He was true son of the soil and a farmer till his last breath," Mukherjee said and recalled his exceptional leadership qualities.
Sanjeeva Reddy, who served as the president between 1977 and 1982, died in 1996 at the age of 83.
Mukherjee pointed out that Sanjeeva Reddy had many records to his credit. He was the youngest president and the only person who served as a chief minister, the Lok Sabha speaker, union minister and the president.
Born in a farmer`s family, Sanjeeva Reddy was the first chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh. He served as the chief minister twice, became the speaker the year he was elected to the Lok Sabha and held the post twice.
Sanjeeva Reddy set high standards by resigning from the Congress party as soon as he was elected the speaker. It was during his tenure that for the first time a man was imprisoned for contempt of the house for raising slogans and throwing pamphlets from visitors` gallery, noted Mukherjee.
The president said Sanjeeva Reddy, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi`s leadership, joined the freedom struggle at the young age of 16. During 1940 and 1945, he was imprisoned many times, including during the Quit India Movement.
Describing Sanjeeva Reddy as the main architect of modern-day Andhra Pradesh, Mukherjee said as the first chief minister of united Andhra Pradesh in 1956, he found solution to many problems which arose following Telangana`s merger with then Andhra state.
Sanjeeva Reddy played a key role in the development and modernization of the state and progress of its people. It was during his tenure that major irrigation projects like Nagarjunasagar, Srisailam, Sriramsagar and Vamsadhara were built.
Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, some state ministers and senior officials were present.
Earlier, the president, who is on a southern sojourn, left Hyderabad by a special aircraft along with the governor and the chief minister. After landing at Puttaparthi, they flew to Anantapur town by helicopters.