PV Narasimha Rao is the name to reckon with in Indian politics. He is not just known for being a former Prime Minister of this country but for his versatility and character which he cultivated throughout his life. Acclaimed as a modern-day Chanakya of Indian politics, PV has come to stay as the architect of modern India who had steered the country to what it is today despite tribulations. Yet continued to remain an enigma for many till date. Today, he may not be in the midst of us, but the legacy and the family he left behind is with us.
PV’s son PV Prabhakar Rao reveals the interesting facets of his father including behind the screen incidents in an exclusive interview with our Special Correspondent as revealed during a Talk Show with Aravind Kolli.
Excerpts from the Interview:
Q: People say India can be viewed as the one before PV and another after PV. What do you have to say about this?
Ans: It’s a foregone conclusion that although India had attained the freedom in 1947, it has attained the Economic Freedom only after 1991 under the leadership of PV Narasimha Rao. In fact, his period from 1991 to 1996 was the most eventful year. If at all anyone wants to write a book on India, they should project India before and after PV as he had created a new infrastructure for the country.
Q: As a Prime Minister he had brought several reforms both in administration wise and economy-wise. But tell me is it true that he claimed to have missed his family in the last moments of his life?
Ans: People close to him know pretty well about him. He was above all these considerations and used to be engrossed himself with one or the other issues. He never used to bother about himself or about his family. He used to find attachment in detachment. Once, a journalist asked him in an interview that whether he sees Prime Minister’s post as the crown of thorns, PV gave a classic reply saying that “I had a life to my age but not age to my life. I always think about problems of tomorrow and I don’t allow future or past to cloud my present”. He took every day as a challenge and always used to think about how to face them and overcome them. Hence, we should look at him from that perspective only.
Q: How do you look at your father being a son? I mean as the best father, Best Prime Minister, best administrator, and as the best reformer or a best literary personality?
Ans: From my point of view he is the best human being as he always used to think from the other’s point of view. He used to think of another person’s feelings before reacting to anything.
Q: Is it true that your father had felt in his last days that his economic reforms had lost human touch?
Ans: It’s true. He said many a time that ‘we are opening up FDI. We want foreign direct investments but not at the cost of local industries. There should always be a human angle. That’s why he had insisted for this human angle when he had gone for the second reforms as a middle path. He made it very clear that ‘Economic reforms are our choice, not a compulsion’. We are going ahead believing that it would do good for our society.
Q: But he also faced a criticism that privatisation of public sector undertakings began from him wherein the human angle had lost.
Ans: I cannot say it is against human touch. Because, at that time, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had put in a precondition warning India against investing entirely on Public Sector Undertakings.
Q: I still remember a version justifying the privatisation of PSUs as the same PSUs which once was a backbone of the country’s economy has proved burdensome today.
Ans: No. We should first understand what he had said. He made it very clear to them that he doesn’t want a single employee should go out of a job. He said we will listen whatever you say as long as it doesn’t affect us.
Q: How do you react to the criticism of the opposition who dubbed him as the agent of IMF?
Ans: This is totally wrong. One should under the crisis first at that time. It was basically a crisis of balance of payments as the Country needs to pay back the loans taken from the IMF. In order to pay back, we do not have the dollars with us. Hence, he took the decision. The culture of taking loans is not which PV had invented for the first time. His predecessors have also taken the loans earlier. This was something the leftists have taken up the campaign those days. The BJP too had its own doubts initially which later was dispelled by him. He said whatever he has done in the interest of the people only.
PV had repeatedly told a number of times on many forums that all our reforms are homegrown means tailor-made to suit our local requirements and was not imported from anywhere outside the country. Besides, he has also created a new Safety Net with Rs1000 crore fund those days to provide a cushion to help anyone who bound to lose their job due to reforms.
Q: In this whole scenario, where do you see his success. To be more precise, as a person bringing land reforms in the state or as a person running a minority government for 5 years?
Ans: Both are successful. Those days, brining reforms was not a joke. He followed the footstep of his guru Ramananda Theertha who is known for his leftist views. His impact was more on him. Moreover, PV had studied rural issues more. He found the inequalities are because of uneven landholdings like somebody holding more and others are less or no lands. This made him introduce the land reforms after he became the Chief Minister.
But, these reforms had brought discontentment among zamindars especially from Andhra Pradesh as they were badly affected after losing vast tracts of lands which are costlier than the lands in Telangana. Hence, all those AP landlords have ganged up against him and started Jai Andhra Movement only to oust him from the Chief Ministership.
Q: Was that real?
Ans: Yes. If Jai Andhra Movement had any integrity it would have continued even after PV stepping down as the Chief Minister. Instead, the movement died automatically once the PV was ousted. So, we can gauge the objective of the Jai Andhra movement.
Q: Do you agree that his land reforms made him distance himself from two key communities?
Ans: It’s not correct to say that communities but landlords as they were affected. Why go to the extent of communities. We have lost our own 1200 acres of hereditary family property. We have just kept 200 acres and given away the rest. We have no regrets for that. In fact, many of our own relatives had come and fought with us about this move. Still, he went ahead. It is true that there was some commotion as he brought this reform through an ordinance.
Q: Why PV did not contest from Telangana after he was defeated in Warangal?
Ans: Indira Gandhi was the reason. It was her choice.
Q: But people say he was not made to contest by a single dominating community in State Congress.
Ans: No it’s not correct from my point of view. In 1984, he also contested from Ramtek in Maharashtra and again in 1989 also he contested from there due to demand from them as he speaks their language Marathi proficiently. He later contested from Nandyal also.
Q: Was it true that except for Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy another important leader in Congress did not support PV in Nandyal elections?
Ans: No. I don’t think so. He won by more than 5 lakh margin after every section worked for hard for him except for BJP that too as a namesake. But he is above all this consideration.
Q: Did you feel bad about what happened after his death as he was not given space in Delhi?
Ans: Yes. It was a painful thing for our family which we felt it as It was a customary practise that the last rites of a Prime Minister should be held at New Delhi. But they asked us to take him to Hyderabad. Even Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy also convinced us saying that it would be appropriate to perform his last rites in Hyderabad as he belongs here. But we insisted it be held at New Delhi. We have relented only after the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Sing assured us to build a memorial in his name in Delhi.
Q: How do you see his body was not allowed inside the party of which PV served as its president?
Ans: It was really a painful thing not just for us but also for the other seniors in the party. They may not have come out openly but expressed this many a time in drawing-room discussions. He was born as a Congressman and died as a Congressman.
Q: Whom do you think is responsible for this? Do you think was Sonia or Dr YSR responsible for this?
Ans: This is a million-dollar question. I don’t see any conspiracy behind this as I am not a party to it. I am only concerned about its effect. I couldn’t take his body inside the AICC office and bring back to Hyderabad. I can only say it’s wrong.
Q: This may hurt you as there were reports of PV’s body was half burnt due to extinction of funeral pyre.
Ans: Yes. It was a traumatic experience for all of us. I came to know that when my sister called me up and apprised me about TV channels showing half-burnt bodies. This exhibited their negligence.
Q: There was a rumour that PV was insulted by the state leadership deliberately only to please their party leadership at Delhi.
Ans: In 1992, there was new thinking developed in Congress party that because of PV’s silence, the Babri Masjid was brought down. Whatever it is, in the latter part, the Libera Han Commission which was constituted to look into the PV’s role has made it clear in the first 2 pages of its report in 2011 that PV absolutely has no role to play in this. The Commission itself had claimed that he had done the best as a Prime Minister to prevent the demolition.
But in 1998 itself, the Muslim community began to blame PV for the demolition and this made Congress sideline him by throwing the entire blame on him in order to win their confidence.
Q: Do you mean to say is this the reason behind insulting PV?
Ans: Yes. They created a situation like this. They are under the impression that if any importance is given to PV he would be highlighted which they do not want.
Q: It means, the then CM YSR Rajasekhar Reddy deliberately insulted him as part of this?
Ans: No. It’s not correct to blame YS Rajasekhar Reddy solely for this as the entire rank and file of the Congress have ganged up against PV. Moreover, he had no other option but to listen to his party’s high command.
(The remaining part of the interview will be published in Part-2. The author can be reached on email@example.com)