Rahul Gandhi tries to teach lesson in ‘magnanimity’, gets reminded of his family legacy of pettiness

Following the demise of Tamil Nadu’s former chief minister M. Karunanidhi last night, a controversy erupted over the burial of the mortal remains of the DMK patriarch. The DMK wants Kalaignar to be laid to rest, and his memorial built, next to his mentor Annadurai’s samadhi at the Anna square on Marina beach, Chennai. When the Tamil Nadu government did not agree, DMK moved Madras High Court. The High Court has accepted DMK’s plea to have the burial at Marina beach which will be his final resting place.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who had smiled eerily while visiting the ailing Kalaignar a few days back, took this as an opportunity to try and score a political brownie point by asking the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu to be ‘magnanimous’ in this time of grief by letting the Marina beach be the final resting place for Karunanidhi.

Twitter users, who seem to know Congress’ legacy better than the ones who are in charge of running the party’s social media, reminded Congress’ prime ministerial candidate of the time his mother was not really magnanimous enough.

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Former Congress President and Rahul Gandhi’s mother Sonia Gandhi loathed former Prime Minister and Congress President P.V. Narasimha Rao enough to not allow his mortal remains to enter the AICC (All India Congress Committee) compound. His body stayed parked in a carriage outside the gate. There was no state funeral for him, whereas Sanjay Gandhi, who forced sterilization during the Emergency and was just an MP from Amethi for little over six months got a state funeral and a samadhi in Delhi. Sonia Gandhi, it is believed, was ‘upset‘ about the way the investigation on Rajiv Gandhi assassination had proceeded.

Rao passed away on 23rd December, 2004. On 27th December 2004, M D Nalapat, Indian academic and columnist wrote (emphasis added):

In fact, despite being a former AICC president and a prime minister, Narasimha Rao was not just excluded from the Congress Working Commitee since the current heir to the Nehru dynasty took charge of the party in 1998, he was not even allowed to become one of the numerous ‘special invitees’, most of whom get selected for their cheerleader skills rather than any other contribution.

Nalapat talks about the death of Rao and the posthumous humiliation by Congress under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi (emphasis added):

Sometime after noon on December 23, 13 days after he had been brought to the hospital early in the morning following a cardiac incident, PV decided to call it quits. It was more than an hour before the doctors finally did.

Strangely — or perhaps entirely expectedly — despite a special Union Cabinet meeting at 3 pm on the subject of his funeral, at his 9 Motilal Nehru Marg home there were no arrangements made to receive the body and place it on a platform, nor flowers, nor any laying out of carpets by the administration for the mourning crowds to sit down on, nor even a shamiana on the lawns.

Finally, Kishore, a friend of PV’s, made arrangements for both. The shamiana could get erected only by 8.15 pm. Carpets and flowers too were provided by family and friends and not by what seemed to be a totally bankrupt Government of India. As if to atone for his visible helplessness, the prime minister, Sardar Manmohan Singh, looked visibly moved as he quietly remained by the side of the body, which had been brought in from the hospital a little before 5 pm. As a gesture of supreme graciousness, Sonia Gandhi turned up and even stayed for a few minutes.

While some of those present then may be made to deny this later, the fact is that the family members — as well as the crowd of mourners — would have been happy to see the father of economic reform and the first prime minister from the south in the history of Free India be given the same honours as Sanjay Gandhi and Charan Singh, a State funeral in New Delhi and an appropriate memorial.

And the final humiliation of Rao before his remains left for Hyderabad (emphasis added):

The next day, December 24, the body of the former Congress prime minister was brought to the gates of the AICC office at 24, Akbar Road and kept there for 20 minutes, ‘to pay homage.’ Apparently, the body was so heavy that it would not have been possible to lift what was left of PV from the gun carriage into the Congress headquarters, which would have been the civilised thing to do.

After this final humiliation, P V Narasimha Rao left New Delhi for Hyderabad, this time for good.

Ten years after he died, it was in 2015 when the former Prime Minister got a memorial in Delhi, that too by NDA government led by Narendra Modi.

Given the circumstances, it is mighty rich of Rahul Gandhi to talk about ‘magnanimity’.


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