Thursday, December 23, 2004

'PV': A scholar, a statesman

'PV': A scholar, a statesman on Rediff

PV, as he was popularly known, would be remembered for initiating far-reaching economic changes which turned Nehru's public sector penchant upside down.

Rao, whose famous pout was a cartoonists' delight, did not contest the 1991 elections and had virtually wound up his establishment here reconciling to political retirement.

But fate willed otherwise.

After Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, he became the consensus candidate for the Congress president's post that put him in the prime minister's seat after the elections.

If Rao has left a legacy as prime minister, it is of LPG (liberalisation, privatisation, globalisation) and economic reforms under the then finance minister Manmohan Singh as the duo pulled the country from the economic brink it was facing at the height of a severe foreign exchange crisis.

One black spot of his rule was the demolition of the disputed structure at Ayodhya in December 1992 and nationwide communal riots that followed.

He was Union Home Minister when riots erupted after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and even then he was blamed for 'criminal inaction.'

Taking a cue from the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, Rao was over 60 years old when he became a computer addict spending hours on his word processors when most politicians were not computer literate.

After the 1992 Ayodhya demolition, he pacified Muslim clerics in chaste Urdu. Later, he was quoting slokas from the Bhagwad Gita while addressing the IAS probationers at his residence.

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