HYDERABAD: Former Union Minister P Shivshankar, an influential Congress leader during the governments of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, passed away here today. He was 90. He died this morning due to old age-related health issues, his son Vinay Kumar told PTI. Shivshankar served as a judge in the then Andhra Pradesh High Court, but resigned from his job and practised law in the High Court and Supreme Court, he said.
He successfully handled cases, especially those related to the Emergency, on the request of Indira Gandhi and won as an MP from Secunderabad in 1978 and 1980. He served as Union Law Minister in 1980 and also as Minister for Energy (Petroleum). Indira Gandhi used to wait for Shivshankar's arrival for important meetings, Kumar claimed.
The senior leader played an important role in Congress affairs as well. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, amid doubts expressed by some, Shivshankar felt that Rajiv Gandhi could become the Prime Minister. He lost narrowly from Medak Lok Sabha constituency, which was earlier represented by Indira Gandhi. He was, however, elected to Rajya Sabha from Gujarat and held important portfolios like the External Affairs, HRD, Commerce and Planning in Union Cabinet.
He served as Leader of the House in Rajya Sabha and also as Leader of Opposition in the Upper House. In 1998, he was elected to Lok Sabha from Tenali in Coastal Andhra. He also served as Governor of Sikkim and Kerala.
He joined the Praja Rajyam Party of actor turned politician Chiranjeevi which subsequently merged with Congress. Born in Hyderabad as one among 11 children, Shivshankar ran away from home as he could not continue studies and reached Amritsar, Kumar said. He did odd jobs like shoe-polishing in Amritsar, but educated himself. He returned to Hyderabad and joined as PA to then Mayor of the city before becoming a judge in the High Court, he added.
Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, state Congress president N Uttam Kumar Reddy and several other leaders have condoled the death of Shivshankar.