Former Andhra Pradesh minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader Devineni Nehru died of cardiac arrest on Monday, his family members said. He was 65. A key figure in Vijayawada politics, he suffered cardiac arrest at his house in Hyderabad. He is survived by a son and a daughter. Nehru, whose real name was Devineni Rajasekhar, was suffering from kidney related ailments and was discharged from a hospital in Hyderabad a few days ago. His body was shifted to Vijayawada, where last rites will be performed on Tuesday.
Popular as Nehru among his followers, he had joined TDP when it was floated by thespian N.T. Rama Rao in early 1982. He was elected to Andhra Pradesh assembly from Kankipadu in 1983 and retained the seat in 1985, 1989 and 1994. Nehru served as the minister in N.T. Rama Rao’s cabinet from 1994 to 1996. When N. Chandrababu Naidu led a revolt against N.T. Rama Rao, Nehru was one of the few leaders to remain loyal to the party founder.
He later joined Congress party but lost 1999 election. He, however, was again elected to the assembly in 2004 but suffered defeats in 2009 and 2014. Last year, he joined re-joined TDP along with his son Avinash. Nehru’s family had a long-running feud with their political rival Vangaveeti Ranga.
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Ranga, a leader of Congress party and belonging to the Kapu community, was murdered in 1988 when he was on hunger strike, sparking unprecedented violence in Vijayawada and other parts of Krishna district as well as neighbouring districts. More than 40 people were killed and properties worth billions of rupees were destroyed in the violence.
The violence abated after then Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao made Nehru surrender. In 2002, a court acquitted all 33 accused including Nehru in the Ranga’s murder case. A Telugu movie “Vangaveeti” on the feud between two families and produced by controversial filmmaker Ramgopal Verma was recently released. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister and TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu condoled the death of Nehru and termed it as a personal loss to him and also a loss to the party.