Veteran journalist and Padma Shri awardee Turlapati Kutumba Rao died following a heart attack in Vijayawada early on Monday, his family told PTI. Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Opposition leader Chandrababu Naidu and leaders of various political parties mourned the death of Kutumba Rao, who was 87 years old. In a statement, CM Jagan said Rao was a multi-faceted talent, who excelled as a prolific writer and an orator.
"His contribution to Telugu journalism and literature was rich," Jagan said, and conveyed his condolences to the bereaved family.
Kutumba Rao, who became a journalist at 14, served as Secretary to the first Chief Minister of Andhra state, Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, in the 1950s.
He was also an author and orator, and held the Guinness World Record for presiding over more than 10,000 public meetings, according to PTI sources. Rao had addressed more than 20,000 events during his career that spanned over six and a half decades.
He was considered a 'walking Encyclopedia' on politics and Telugu movies for his in-depth knowledge of the subjects.
Rao later became Editor of Andhra Jyothy Telugu daily and Jyothy Chitra, the film weekly run by the same group.
He had a good rapport with at least 18 Chief Ministers of erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh and had penned a book listing his interactions with them.
The Government of India conferred the Padma Shri on Kutumba Rao in 2002.
During the tenure of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy as Chief Minister, Rao served as Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Library Council or the AP Grandhalaya Parishad, and received several awards and honours for his contribution to Telugu journalism and literature. The Andhra Viswa Kala Parishad conferred him with the Kala Prapoorna (honorary doctorate).
"Andhra Pradesh lost a multi-faceted talent in the demise of Rao. The numerous awards and accolades he won, reflected Raoâ€™s immense talents," Chandrababu said.
Jana Sena president Pawan Kalyan, state Congress president S Sailajanath, journalistsâ€™ associations and a host of others too expressed grief over the death of Kutumba Rao.
Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan also expressed profound grief and sadness at the passing away of Rao. "Rao is well known for his contribution to Telugu journalism with 4,000 biographies and 16,000 public speeches which won him a place in the world records," he said. The Governor prayed for the departed soul to rest in peace as he offered heartfelt condolences to Rao's family members.
With IANS inputs