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Saturday, March 25, 2023

How Sonia Led Congress Tried to Destroy PV Narasimha Rao’s Legacy

Today is the 95th birth anniversary of Pamulaparthy Venkata Narasimha Rao (PVNR), arguably the best Prime Minister that Bharat has had till date. PVNR served as the 9th Prime Minister of Bharat from 1991-96 at an extraordinarily difficult time when  the country was on the verge of bankruptcy and economic collapse. He is considered the architect of economic reforms & liberalization that ushered in an era of growth and rescued us from the crisis created by decades of the statist economic model (license-permit raj) enforced by Nehru and Indira.

Born in 1921 in Hyderabad State, PVNR was a freedom fighter (he fought against the Nizam of Hyderabad’s Razakar Army) who joined the Congress party after Bharat won independence in 1947. A loyal Congressman his entire life, PVNR held important cabinet portfolios like Home, Defence, Foreign Affairs in the Governments of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. After the assassination of Congress President Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, PVNR rose to head the minority Congress Government as Bharat’s first Prime Minister from South Bharat, and was the first person outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to serve as PM for five continuous years.

Nation above party interests

PV Narasimha Rao was a path-breaking leader in more ways than one. A scholar par excellence (he was fluent in 17 languages), he openly opposed the dynasty sycophants who have dominated the Congress since Independence. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, when durbaris like Arjun Singh & Vincent George proposed that Rajiv’s wife Sonia be made the Congress chief, the meritocratic PVNR shot back saying “Why should the Congress party be hitched to the Nehru-Gandhi family like train compartments to the engine?“ PVNR went on to become PM after Congress MPs voted for him in an internal party election.

Even though he was leading a minority Government, PVNR appointed deserving people to key positions, even crossing party-lines when required. His first choice for Finance Minister was ex-RBI Governor I.G. Patel, but when Patel declined, PVNR chose a non-political economist & bureaucrat Manmohan Singh for the job. He also appointed Subramanian Swamy, an Opposition party member as the Chairman of the Commission on Labour Standards and International Trade and sent another Opposition leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to represent Bharat in a UN meeting at Geneva.

PVNR’s Historic Legacy Whitewashed by Vindictive Sonia

After Congress lost the 1996 elections under PVNR’s leadership, the Congress swiftly reverted to type with the next in line of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Sonia Gandhi, regaining control of the party through faithful family loyalists like Arjun Singh, MS Aiyar etc. This 2004 rediff piece by MD Nalapat informs us, “Despite being a former AICC (All India Congress Committee) president and a prime minister, PVNR was not just excluded from the Congress Working Commitee since Sonia Gandhi 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.”

When PVNR died in 2004 in Delhi after suffering a heart attack, his body was not allowed inside the AICC (All India Congress Committee) building. He was denied a state funeral in New Delhi which an outstanding ex-PM like him deserved – he was finally cremated in Hyderabad. Under Sonia, Congress has consistently refused to recognize PVNR’s role in steering the country in difficult times, and he has been removed from history books while even absolute non-achievers like Rahul Gandhi get a mention!

In a speech to mark the 125th anniversary of the Congress, the party president Sonia Gandhi made it a point to ignore PVNR, while crediting her husband Rajiv Gandhi for scripting the economic policies that were implemented by the PVNR Government.

Even today, dynasty loyalists like the controversial Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, spout nothing but venom for a man who dragged Bharat out of an economic mire and put it on the path to become the fastest growing economy today.

When the present day Congress led by Sonia Gandhi cannot even honor one of its own, what hope can we have that this party will show a bipartisan approach in passing important economic legislation like GST. Sonia and her corrupt coterie would do well to borrow a leaf from the PM’s book who paid tributes to PVNR on his 95th birth anniversary. 

PVNR deserves the Bharat Ratna (our highest civilian honor) for his outstanding service to the nation. While members of the Nehru Gandhi dynasty like Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi were quick to award themselves with the honor, Sonia Gandhi ensured that PVNR was denied this recognition during the UPA 1 & 2 terms. It is time that the current  NDA Government corrects this anomaly and recognizes the scholarly ex-PM from Hyderabad who was consigned to the sidelines of history by the very political party he served with such  distinction.

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