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Rao gives Rao what Congress did not

Hyderabad, June 28: The tributes are pouring in, nearly 10 years after his death.

The Telangana government plans to install a statue of P.V. Narasimha Rao, name a district and a university after him and build a memorial in Delhi to the former Prime Minister.

The Telangana Rashtra Samiti, which heads the government in the newly created state, also plans to demand a posthumous Bharat Ratna for Rao, who died in December 2004.

Rao, a towering Congress leader from Karimnagar with over 35 years of service to the party and the nation, was a close associate of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. When he became Congress president and Prime Minister following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in May 1991, he is believed to have had Sonia Gandhi’s support.

Rao, the first leader from the non-Hindi-speaking south to become Prime Minister, was also responsible for dismantling the licence raj.

But the Babri Masjid demolition and a series of scandals during his tenure, together with palace intrigue and one-upmanship, drove a wedge between the Prime Minister and 10 Janpath. By the time Rao died in December 2004, his isolation was complete.

His mortal remains were not taken inside the Congress headquarters at 24 Akbar Road for people to pay their last respects, as had been customary for party chiefs and senior leaders.

On Rao’s 93rd birth anniversary today, Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said his government would install a statue of the late leader in Hyderabad, name a district and a university after him and erect a memorial in Delhi as a fitting tribute to the man widely seen as the original architect of liberalisation.

The chief minister described Rao as a victim of the land reforms he initiated in the country which went against the landed gentry.

The TRS government has already declared Rao’s birth anniversary celebrations as an official state event as a tribute to the “Telangana bidda (son)”, often referred to as Chanakya.

Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan also paid rich tributes to Rao at a memorial meeting.

Earlier, Telugu Desam chief N. Chandrababu Naidu had promised to push for a memorial in Delhi to the late leader.