Rediscovering a leader

It is ironic that the Congress is now showering praise on PV after ignoring him for long

AuthorPublished: 27th Jul 2020  12:00 amUpdated: 26th Jul 2020  6:28 pm

It is ironic that the Congress high command is now showering praise on former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao after systematically undermining his stellar contributions and denying him dignity even in his death. The ongoing birth centenary celebrations of the erudite politician provide an opportunity for the grand old party to do honest introspection and initiate course correction to undo its monumental mistakes. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, who had infamously refused to allow PV’s mortal remains to be brought inside the premises of the party headquarters in Delhi following his death in 2004, has now joined her party colleagues in paying rich tribute to him on the eve of the 29th anniversary of the 1991 economic reforms. Congress leaders must realise that because of their obsession with the Gandhi-Nehru family, they have been losing most of the icons of their rich past. Wittingly or unwittingly, the party has lost its claim over the legacy of several stalwarts like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Subhash Chandra Bose and freedom fighters like Madan Mohan Malaviya and Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Despite being the first Congressman outside the party’s first family to have successfully completed a full term in office, PV was not given due recognition. In fact, attempts were made to dilute his contributions and denigrate his image. After the Congress lost elections in 1996, the party committees, set up to find reasons for the loss, had blamed the economic reforms and concluded that under PV’s prime ministership the Congress had strayed from its socialist moorings.

The Congress also held PV responsible for destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 when he was the Prime Minister. He was blamed for the Congress losing the Muslim vote base. The party’s new-found love for its former president can be explained from the fact that the Telangana government has taken the initiative to honour him in a fitting manner by organising year-long centenary celebrations and building a memorial. It has also sought the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, for the “Telangana Bidda” who left an indelible mark on the people of this nation with his contributions across sectors, including economy, education, social welfare and land reforms. The TRS government deserves appreciation for seeking to restore the pride of place for PV who left behind a rich legacy. He was a statesman who believed in the politics of consensus and a blue-blooded Congress politician who had mastered the art of outwitting his opponents while simultaneously leaving them in awe of him. For people of Telangana, he represents a true son of the soil who earned a niche for himself in the State and national politics as a scholar-politician, a polyglot, and an astute strategist.

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