Hyderabad, July 24 : Congress Interim President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi on Friday paid tributes to late former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao in what is seen as a rare move by Gandhis.
The top leaders of the party, which often faced criticism for dumping the political legacy of the late leader, recalled his services on the occasion of his birth centenary celebrations organised by the Telangana unit of the party.
This is perhaps for the first time since Rao’s death in 2004 that the top party leadership paid tributes to him.
Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao’s move to launch the year-long birth centenary celebrations on June 28 appears to have forced the Telangana unit of Congress party to conduct a similar event.
Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi sent their messages on the occasion and the same were read out by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) chief Uttam Kumar Reddy.
Sonia Gandhi described PV, as the late former Prime Minister was popularly known, a scholarly and erudite personality.
She also went on to call him a very respected national and international figure and said that the Congress party takes pride in his many accomplishments and contributions.
“The birth centenary of Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao is an occasion for us to recall and pay tribute to a most scholarly and erudite personality. After a long career in state and national politics, he became Prime Minister of India at a time of grave economic crisis. Through his bold leadership, our country was able to overcome many challenges successfully,” reads her message.
“The Union Budget of July 24, 1991 paved the way for the economic transformation of our country. Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao’s tenure was also marked by a number of political, social and foreign policy achievements that have endured. Above all he was a dedicated Congressman who served the party devotedly in various capacities.”
Rahul Gandhi congratulated the TPCC for organising the birth centenary celebrations.
“On this occasion, we celebrate the legacy of a man whose contribution continues to shape modern India. From joining the Congress party in his teenage years to becoming the Prime Minister of the largest democracy, his remarkable political journey reflected his grit and determination.”
He noted that July 24 marks the 29th anniversary of the 1991 budget. “On this day, India embarked on a bold new path of economic transformation. Shri P.V. Narasimha Rao and Dr. Manmohan Singh played a pivotal role in ushering in the era of liberalization,” he said
He hoped this event would revive interest among the youth to learn about India’s growth story and the remarkable individuals who made this possible.
Former President Pranab Mukherjee, in his video message on the occasion, said Narasimha Rao made unique contributions to build up the nation. He said the late leader led the Congress party in a very difficult time.
He recalled that PV became Prime Minister at a very crucial time.
“He provided stability to the country and also encouraged those who belonged to the lower categories of the society and encouraged youngsters in national politics,” Pranab Mukherjee said.
“He was known for his ability to do something which sometimes appeared impossible to do. As Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, introducing massive land reforms in a state dominated by feudal interests was an act of courage and conviction.”
Manmohan Singh, who inaugurated the celebration, delivered his address through video conference. He described PV as the great son of the soil who had the vision and courage to push the economic reforms.
“I consider it a great privilege to inaugurate these celebrations today. I am particularly happy that this programme has been organised on a day when I had privilege as the finance minister of India for presenting the first budget of Sri PV Narasimha Rao Ji’s government in 1991,” he said.
Singh said the budget changed India in many ways and it ushered in economic reforms and liberalisation.
“It was a hard choice and bold decision and it was possible because Prime Minister Narasimha Rao Ji gave me the freedom to rollout things after he fully understood what was ailing India’s economy at that time.”
The former Prime Minister said PV was a friend, philosopher and guide to him in many ways.
Singh said PV left behind an unmatched legacy of being a linguist and a scholar.
“He was among the first converts to new technology by becoming adept with a computer and proficient with programming as he was always willing to learn new things,” he added.