Congress tweet of fondness towards PVNR revives ghosts of past

The Congress party, which aimed at its pie of credit from India’s achievements, ended up unwittingly reviving the ghosts of the past

Congress tweet of fondness towards PVNR revives ghosts of past

HYDERABAD: The Congress party, which aimed at its pie of credit from India's achievements on the occasion of the 76th Independence Day, ended up unwittingly reviving the ghosts of the past on Monday. The grand old party plunged itself into a 'foot-in-the-mouth' situation when it displayed its bragging rights over PV Narasimha Rao, one of its tallest leaders, in a desperate attempt to gain some political mileage.

A tweet by the party, coinciding with the nationwide celebrations, was meant to gently remind the people on how its former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao laid the foundation for the mid-day meal scheme in the country. It claimed that Rao's pioneering efforts brought the students back to school and helped improve their standard of education.

It read: "On this day in 1995, P V Narasimha Rao, former PM of India, laid the foundation of the Mid-Day Meal scheme that brought numerous students back to school and improved their attendance, quality of education and nutritional levels."

No one should have qualms about welcoming this 'matter-of-fact' statement. On the face of it, the tweet was a timely reminder from India's oldest political party in its efforts to make people sit up and reconnect to some historical facts. In a nutshell, the principal opposition party is making sure that the contribution of its leaders cannot be simply glossed over, especially on a momentous occasion like Independence Day.

But for people of both the Telugu states – Telangana and Andhra Pradesh – and especially those who have vivid memories of the political developments of the last decade or two, the Congress tweet only managed to rake up the bitterness of the past. This is an unsavoury part of history that many of them would treat as most forgettable. Political observers and PVNR's admirers still remember the way the former Prime Minister was treated by the Congress high command, more remorselessly after relinquishing the coveted post.

Now with the latest tweet, these sections are struggling to reconcile to the paradox: The Congress that ignored and humiliated PVNR, even in his death, is recalling the man with great fondness.

PVNR, a multi-faceted personality

Renowned as a polyglot who speaks multiple languages, an intellectual, an astute political brain and a master strategist, PV Narasimha Rao was the 'Man Friday' for the Congress to deal with the vacuum created by the assasination of Rajiv Gandhi. When the Congress emerged as the single largest party in the ensuing elections but fell short of a comfortable majority, Rao was the undisputable choice for the party to steer the country in the path of stability.

Like no one imagined, Rao showed his genius to bail the country out of fiscal troubles, initiated economic reforms and even managed to last the full five-year term. No doubt, there were a few murky events that stigmatised his stint. But the fact that he was the first PM of the Congress, outside of the Nehru-Gandhi clan, worked to his disadvantage.

Party high command led by Sonia Gandhi was accused of treating Rao like a pariah ever since he demitted the office of prime minister. Even as his slighting at the hands of his own party continued, the worst moment of discriminaton and disregard, perhaps one of the darkest in Congress history, came soon after his death.

Contrary to the tradition, the venue for his last rites was shifted from Delhi to Hyderabad.

TRS pays real tribute to PV

Ironically, it is the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government led by Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, that restored the lost pride and dignity of the late leader about 17 years after his demise. In a slew of measures, the KCR regime celebrated a year-long birth centenary of the leader, rechristened the Necklace Road as PV Narasimha Rao Marg and unveiled a 26-foot-tall bronze statue on the banks of Hussain Sagar in June last year.

And in a move that ran straight in the face of the Congress, the TRS supremo also honoured Narasimha Rao's family by offering his daughter Surabhi Vani Devi an MLC seat from the Graduates' constituency in August the same year.

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