Congress looks to appropriate legacies of non-dynasty stalwarts

Even former PM Narasimha Rao was remembered and the party discussed highlighting his role, along with Manmohan Singh’s, in ushering in economic reforms

Published: 15th May 2022 10:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th May 2022 03:44 PM   |  A+A-

Image used for representational purpose only.  (Photo | PTI)

Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: While the BJP is trying to appropriate Congress leaders Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi, and the AAP is promoting the legacies of Bhagat Singh and Dr B R Ambedkar, the Congress is looking to go back to its roots and aggressively talk about the work done by its ‘own’ leaders, including former prime minister PV Narsimha Rao, who is still treated as a pariah in the party.

Repeatedly accused of dynastic politics and allegiance to the Nehru-Gandhi family, the Congress, during the three-day brainstorming session in Udaipur, discussed owning the legacies of stalwarts from the freedom struggle era such as Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Sarojini Naidu, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and others.

 P Chidambaram addresses a press conference

Even Rao, according to sources, was remembered and the party discussed highlighting his contribution, along with Manmohan Singh’s, in ushering in economic reforms. Around the Chintan Shivir venue, big posters of former Congress PMs, party presidents and other big leaders, along with their quotes, have been put up. This is being seen as an effort by the party to invoke its past glory at a time when it is staring at an existential crisis and to aim for a massive revamp to bring the party in sync with the changing times.  

Rao’s mention at the Udaipur meeting holds significance following the unceremonious treatment meted out to him in 1998. The Congress was accused of not even paying tributes to Rao during his 100th birth anniversary in 2021. The former PM’s grandson alleged the party ignored him because he was not from the ‘Gandhi’ family.  

Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and others during a meeting of AICC general secretaries | PTI

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, who worked closely, albeit for a brief period, with Rao during his tenure as PM, talked about his work during the country’s most troubled period in his book, To The Brink and Back: India’s 1991 Story. In the last chapter, A final Word, Ramesh writes, “There is no need to revile him, as indeed he has been, or render him with a halo, as is being done to fight today’s political battles… If Rao still remains compelling of our attention, even commendation, it is for the truly transformational leadership he demonstrated at a most precarious time in India’s economic history.”


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