Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Former President of India, 83

Published: June 03, 1996

Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, a former President of India who was at the center of a split in the powerful Congress Party in 1969, died of pneumonia on Saturday, hospital officials here said. He was 83.

The Government of Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda, who was sworn in on Saturday, declared seven days of mourning for Mr. Reddy, who will get a state funeral.

Mr. Reddy made his first bid for the presidency -- a ceremonial post chosen by members of Parliament and state assemblies -- in 1969 as the official candidate for the dominant Congress Party. He was backed by the party's old guard but opposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, whose own choice, V. V. Giri, won.

The contest precipitated a split in the party. The old guard faction opposed to Mrs. Gandhi later merged with the Janata Party.

After Janata formed India's first non-Congress Government, in 1977, Mr. Reddy was elected the country's sixth president as the Janata nominee. After his five-year term, he retired to his farm in southern India.