MUMBAI: Striking a divergent note from dominant ally BJP, Shiv Sena today lavished praise on the contribution of former Congress Prime Ministers from Jawharlal Nehru to Mamnohan Singh to India's growth story and said they too had made the country proud during their foreign visits and were immensely popular abroad.
Significantly, Sena's comment came in the backdrop of BJP's jubilation over the outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's latest trip to the US and Congress's attack on him over his remarks about corruption in India while on foreign soil. In an editorial in its mouthpiece "Saamana", Sena said contribution of former PMs P V Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh in accelerating India's economic growth cannot be forgotten and also recalled the vital role of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in expediting technological advancement.
"Modi has a remarkable persona in foreign nations and Indians who are far from their country like him very much. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi too were famous overseas. "Nehru was immensely popular abroad. There still are people in Russia and America who sing praises of Nehru's persona. They were popular at a time when there was no media or social media," it said.
"While it is true that Modi is immensely popular, Rao and Manmohan laid the foundation of India's economic development. They opened the doors and windows of the country to invite other nations and opened up India's economy. How can we forget this?" it said.
Thus, even if both these leaders were not as popular, their contribution cannot be thrown into the darkness. At a time when the economy was in a bad shape, both these Prime Ministers gave a direction to the country’s economy, it said. "Doordarshan started telecasting its programmes pan-India since 1982. It was on August 15, 1982 that Indira Gandhi's Independence Day address to the nation was first telecast on DD in colour," Sena said.
"Later, it was Rajiv Gandhi who ushered in an era of computers and ensured that every village had phone and STD booths. He and his advisor Sam Pitroda are known as the architects of Indian telecommunication sector." BJP has repeatedly attacked Congress PMs, accusing them of misrule, propagating corruption and failing on several fronts.