After almost 16 years, the Congress party, which did not shy away from humiliating the former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao even in his death by not allowing his mortal remains to enter its headquarters, has suddenly decided to co-opt the forgotten leader in what appears as an attempt to turn their declining political fortunes.
Former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader Manmohan Singh sang praises to PV Narasimha Rao, addressing him as “father of economic reforms in India”. While speaking at the inaugural session of birth centenary celebrations of PV Narsimha Rao, former PM Singh hailed him as “great son of the soil” who had the vision and courage of ushering the country into the era of economic reforms. Singh had served as the Finance of Minister of India under PV Narasimha Rao.
Ascribing the credit of opening up the Indian economy to PV Narasimha Rao, Singh said, “It was a hard choice and a bold decision and it was possible because prime minister Narasimha Rao gave me the freedom to roll out things, after he fully understood what was ailing India’s economy at that time.”
P V Narasimha Rao was the first prime minister outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to complete a full term of five years. He had become the PM in 1991 due to the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi during the elections.
Indignities meted out to PV Narsimha Rao under Congress
While Congress is falling over itself to pay homage to the former prime minister, it is an opportune time to revisit the indignities meted out to Rao by the Congress party. Congress’ sudden change of heart for the former Prime Minister betrays the hatred its senior leadership harboured for Rao 16 years ago when he was not accorded the due respect even in his death and his mortal remains were not allowed from entering the Congress headquarters.
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.
PV Narasimha Rao, who Manmohan Singh hails as the “father of economic reforms in India” did not even receive a state funeral. In fact, leaders like Sanjay Gandhi, who presided over horrendous programs such as forced sterilisation during the Emergency was honoured with a state funeral and a samadhi in Delhi. However, PV Narasimha Rao was not considered by the Congress leadership, headed by Sonia Gandhi, of worthy enough to deserve 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.
Even before his demise, Rao was subjected to the humiliation and abasement that did not seem proper for a senior AICC member and the former Prime Minister of India. 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 Committee 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.”
Following his death, Nalapat claimed that despite calling a special Union Cabinet meeting at 3 pm to discuss the subject of Rao’s funeral, no arrangements were made at his 9 Motilal Nehru Marg 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 were arranged by the Congress leadership.
PV Narasimha Rao’s grandson slams Congress leaders for accusing the former PM of sideling Nehru-Gandhi dynasty
PV Narasimha Rao’s humiliation by the Congress party and its leaders did not end with his demise alone. Long after he died, the former prime minister was an object of scorn and contempt for the Congress leaders. Last year, NV Subhash, the grandson of former Prime Minister and senior Congress leader late P V Narasimha Rao had slammed a senior Congress leader and the party for making allegations against the former Prime Minister and also demanded an apology from the Gandhi family for “injustice” done to him.
NV Subhash reacted after AICC Secretary G Chinna Reddy had issued a statement accusing former Prime Minister Rao of trying to “sideline” the Nehru-Gandhi family during his tenure. NV Subhash said G Chinna Reddy’s accusations were “not true and condemnable”.
“Rao was the most trusted and loyal leader for Gandhi family and always guided the family on many issues”, he claimed.
It is pertinent to note that ten years after his death, the former Prime Minister finally got a memorial in Delhi in 2015, that too by the NDA government led by PM Modi.