Congress official spokesperson Kotagiri Vidyadhar Rao (70), a native of East Yedapalli village of Kamavarapkota mandal in West Godavari district died of heart attack at his house here Saturday morning. He had returned to his house late Friday night after campaigning for panchayat elections.
Vidyadhar Rao entered politics as sarpanch of Chintalapudi in 1978 and rose to the level of a state leader with hard work.
He was elected for the first time from Chintalapudi to the assembly in 1983 as an independent candidate, defeating the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) opponent. Later, he joined the TDP and since then he was elected five times from Chintalapudi constituency.
He was the Agriculture minister in the NTR cabinet and held major industries’ portfolio in Chandrababu Naidu’s cabinet.
In 2004 assembly elections, he was defeated from Chintalapudi and in 2009 from the Ungutur seat. Rao contested from Ungutur as the Chintalapudi constituency was reserved for SCs.
In 2008, he quit TDP and joined Praja Rajyam Party (PRP) and later Congress as Chiranjeevi merged PRP with Congress. Since then, Rao had been the party’s official spokesperson.
Vidyadhar Rao backed Chandrababu Naidu, when NT Rama Rao was dethroned as chief minister. Vidyadhar had his own group in the district and tried to win elections on his own strength.
He is survived by a son and a daughter. Last rites will be performed in East Yedapalli village Sunday with government honours.
Hearing of the demise of Vidyadhar Rao his relatives, friends and followers have been flocking to his village.
Union ministers MM Pallam Raju, K Chiranjeevi, Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, state ministers Vatti Vasantha Kumar, Pitani Satyanarayana, C Rama Chandraiah, Thota Narasimham, Pinipe Viswaroop, MLAs Kothapalli Subba Raidu, cine producer Allu Aravind, joint collector Dr T Baburao Naidu, MLAs, MLCs and leaders from various parties paid rich tributes to the departed leader at his house.
Chiranjeevi said that the death of Vidyadhar Rao is a great loss to the party as well as to the state.