The current generation (or at least the most of it) doesn’t really know PV Narasimha Rao and/or identify his contributions to this great nation of ours. The congress top brass made every possible effort to make sure that this man went down in History as a nobody, a memorial-less nobody. After all PV Narasimha Rao changed the name of the Congress Party from Congress (Indira) to Bhartiya Rashtriya Congress (Indian National Congress) and rejected the candidature of Sonia Gandhi as the Congress President with this golden quote of his “Congress Party should be treated like a train where the compartments have to be attached to an engine belonging to the Nehru-Gandhi family or were there other alternatives?”
In his last few days, a constant threat of imprisonment hung over his head. His colleagues gossiped about his involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. In a speech to mark the 125th anniversary of the Congress, the party president Sonia Gandhi, praised contributions of all Congress prime ministers except PV Narasimha Rao.
When he died, there were no arrangements made to receive the body and place it atop a platform for public darshan. No flowers were provided by the congress government. There was no shamiana, there were no carpets. There was no one to control the mourning crowds. The congress president came for a couple of minutes and vanished.
Revenge is supposed to be a dish best served cold. Congress President demonstrated it. Her vengeance was cold and brutal. This was a treatment meted out to a man who entered the prime minister office amidst an economic turmoil. The Man who scripted the liberalisation of the Indian economy. The man who opened up India to foreign investment, reformed capital markets, deregulated domestic business and revitalized the trade regime. The man who privatized the Public sector and made sure more money was pumped into infrastructure. The man whose efforts ensured total foreign investment in India grow from an infinitesimal US $132 million in 1991–92 to $5.3 billion in 1995–96.
The square platform of black marble called the Raj Ghat marks the spot where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated following his assassination in 1948. The two squared memorial Veer Bhoomi north of Raj Ghat, commemorates Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi arguably the worst Prime Minister India ever had. A little north to the Veer Bhoomi is Shakti Sthal, The sixty tons iron-ore rock memorial of Indira Gandhi, first lady prime minister of India. Then there is Shanti Vana, the memorial of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. Also, in the northmost section of the park is Vijay Ghat which commemorates India’s second Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri.
PV Narasimha Rao was denied a memorial in the national capital despite scripting the economic renaissance of the nation. But, things are changing and changing for good in this nation destroyed by 10 years of misrule.
10 years after his demise, PV Narasimha Rao finally got a memorial. He was denied of what he rightfully deserved by his ungrateful party but the NDA government made sure, he gets a memorial to his name in the national capital. Soon after coming to power, the NDA government had suggested to build a memorial in Rao’s name. Union urban development minister M Venkaiah Naidu took it upon himself to speed up the task.
War of words will begin any moment. Seculars will question the necessity for the memorial as they consider PV Narasimha Rao one of the facilitators of the Babri demolition. Gandhi loyalists will reject Modi government’s effort to memorialize Rao as an attempt to over-write the Nehru-Gandhi legacy of the Congress. But the fact remains, that NDA government has rightfully honoured the saviour of 1.25 billion people, a genius, a legend and arguably the best prime minister of India.