When Rajiv Gandhi suddenly died in a terror attack, in midst of electioneering Campaign of 1991 General election. With Congress likely to make a comeback, the question asked was, who will be crowned as Prime Minister thereafter. PV Narasimha Rao turned the dark horse and was the right choice, for his ability to take others along with vast experience in Administration & Governance. In 1991 PV Narasimha Rao had almost decided to retire from politics and did not contest Lok Sabha election. After becoming PM won a by-election from Andhra Pradesh with a record margin of over 5 lakh votes. There was an attempt made by few camps within Congress to sideline him, which eventually failed. Sharad Pawar manoeuvred rigorously for the PM chair. But was outsmarted by PV Narasimha Rao and he settled for a Cabinet Ministers post. In fact, Sharad Pawar kept his anger and revengeful behaviour towards those who opposed him. Sunil Dutt later faced Sharad Pawar brunt, who had openly supported PV Narasimha Rao as PM candidate.
Congress was coming back to power in 1991 after having lost the 1989 election. In 1984 Rajiv Gandhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination had come to power with the highest mandate ever achieved by any leader in India. He got 419 MP seats with more than 50% national vote share. Regional party from Andhra Pradesh NTR’s Telugu Desam was second highest with 30 MPs. In fact, in 1984 PV Narasimha Rao contested from 2 Lok Sabha constituency, lost Election from Andhra Pradesh and won from Ramtek, Maharashtra. BJP in its new ‘Avtar’ which debuted in the 1984 elections for the first time just got 2 seats with likes of AB Vajpayee losing Lok Sabha election from Gwalior to Madhav Rao Scindia.
Rao’s achievement was to give India a stable government for 5 years, in spite of his party being in the minority. Brought in much-needed reforms with an open mind. Abolished the permit quota & licences raj. Created 1 window system for project clearance.
In 1984 candidate selection, Rajiv Gandhi kept the Congress candidates list top secret and revealed it at the last moment, creating confusion and chaos in the opposition camp. Even Amitabh Bachchans‘ name for candidature from Allahabad was announced which came as a big surprise. Madhav Rao Scindia name from Gwalior also was announced at very last moment before the filing of nomination.
After big hope from Rajiv Gandhi, it was disappointed all the way. From Defence Bofors scam corruption charges, Sri Lanka failure, LTTE, Muslim appeasement and the list was running long. He was finally ousted in 1989 election. Even though the short Opposition experiment did not last long with 2 Govt in 2 yrs period.
After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination by LTTE in May 1991, the Congress came to power first time as a minority government. PV Narasimha Rao the senior Congress leader was chosen as PM. PV Narasimha Rao inherited great challenge with India which was on verge of Economic crises, Social Society clashes, Terrorism in Punjab, J&K & LTTE anti-India activity in Tamil Nadu. We were on the verge of defaulting on International payment and staring at bankruptcy. Our foreign currency reserves were practically nil, India had to pledge gold to pay for its Oil import from International Market.
The caste equation after VP Singh idea to pop up Mandal had divided the society. With violent clashes reported across the country, by those in support opposing the move. The Khalistan issue in Punjab was disturbing. Kashmir was infiltrated with Jihadi elements and an exodus of Kashmiri pandits disheartening. Tamil Nadu under DMK up to 1991 was encouraging LTTE, who had rogue elements damaging the basic Tamil society.
Under the instruction of Sonia Gandhi – Antonio Maino then Congress party President, didn’t even allow his dead body to be brought into Congress Party office in Delhi. Was even denied permanent burial funeral place in Delhi.
PV Narasimha Rao taking over the PM Baton at such crucial juncture was a challenging endeavour. He was not a dynast and had risen to the top with sheer hard work. He was a highly qualified knowledgeable, Sanskrit scholar and knew 16 languages. His achievement was to give India a stable government for 5 years, in spite of his party being in the minority. Brought in much-needed reforms with an open mind. Abolished the permit quota & licences raj. Created 1 window system for project clearance.
Thus the Indian economy opened up and unleashed power of liberalisation. He was willing to involve his adversaries and got many from the opposition on to his fold. Gave a responsibility-free hand to those who wanted to perform. Manmohan Singh was given the power, status and shown the path to take. Today we are growing economically, all due to the effort of PV Narasimha Rao. That is his big achievement and the story continues even today. He overtook snail pace of past government and showed we can grow @ 8% and above.
In Punjab, he gave local leaders and the CM importance. The police force was given full power free hand to deal with terrorism. In a short time, normalcy started returning to Punjab. With Stock markets scam he had to take a few drastic steps, he allowed foreign investors, brought in National Stock Exchange, introduced SEBI to monitor regulate stock markets. Had to open FDI in 35 types of sectors. The FDI flow into India grew from $132 million in 1991 to $5.3 billion at the end of his 5-year tenure.
It was his planning which prepared India’s nuclear strategy. Gave our scientist free hand to explore nuclear capability in defence and energy purpose. Later on, the government was benefited out of his base groundwork. The shortest description to his stand on Ram Janmabhoomi dispute case will be, he was true Shri Ram Bhakt.
After losing his power, he lived in isolation. Was totally ignored disowned dishonoured by Congress on behest of Sonia Gandhi & family. He had to personally fight his cases filed against him when was in power without anyone nor Congress party supporting him.
Even when he died, under the instruction of Sonia Gandhi – Antonio Maino then Congress party President, didn’t even allow his dead body to be brought into Congress Party office in Delhi. Was even denied permanent burial funeral place in Delhi. The Rao’s family had to shift his body to Hyderabad for the last rite cremation. His one-time protege Manmohan Singh was PM then, he also went mute to this shoddy ill-treatment to great ex-PM. Sonia Gandhi and Congress party once again demonstrated the way they treat great leader’s personalities, Nationalists. Earlier it was Lal Bahadur Shastri and later PV Narasimha Rao.
When Pranab Mukherjee was bestowed Bharat Ratna by Modi Government, we all welcomed it. It must have been also PV Narasimha Rao along to get the award. Truly deserve the highest honour.
Hope the future government, leaders consider him truly worthy for the award. Dr Subramanian Swamy being in opposition was bestowed Cabinet rank and closely worked with PV Narasimha Rao during his PM tenure with his Economic Blue-Print for market reforms. Dr Swamy is vocal in demanding Bharat Ratna for PV Narasimha Rao and recently Telangana Cheif Minister Kalvakuntla Chandrashekhar Rao also joined in demanding due honour for Rao.
On his recent 99 birth anniversary and grand centenary celebrations being planned in Telangana 2020-2021 to remembering his tremendous contribution to reviving our economy and laying the foundation of growth. Congress after gauging ground reality support for PV Narasimha Rao have softened their stand and may join the centenary celebration. PV Narasimha Rao should be Respected, Celebrated and Honoured with the highest honour award Bharat Ratna very soon.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
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