PV’s family will boycott the year long fete organised by the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee.

 

The Congress, after losing its two traditionally supporting families—the Scindias in Madhya Pradesh and Pilots in Rajasthan—in the last few months, has lost another one, that of former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao on his birth centenary this year. The grand old party has suffered a jolt as PV’s family has decided to boycott the year-long fete organised by the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC).

On the other hand, the family has actively associated itself with the official celebrations being held by the K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR)-led TRS government in the state. There are reports that the late PV’s third daughter Vani Devi, who runs a clutch of educational institutions, including a fine arts college in Hyderabad, is being considered by CM KCR to be made a nominated MLC (Member of Legislative Council). Though neither former PM nor his family is an active political force to reckon with in power politics in the state, their decision to stay away from the centenary celebrations of TPCC is a blow to the party that is trying hard to regain its lost glory across the country. The Congress leadership has lost valuable time to retain support of PV’s family that still has some admirers and supporters in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

TPCC led by MP N. Uttam Kumar Reddy organised a virtual meeting commemorating late PV’s birth centenary at the Gandhi Bhavan in Hyderabad on Friday in which former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was the chief guest and two former Union ministers, P. Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh, were guests of honour. Earlier, it was told to the media that Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former president Rahul Gandhi would speak through video links from Delhi, but that part was missing on Friday, for obvious reasons. When Uttam Kumar Reddy called up PV’s daughter Vani Devi and son P.V. Prabhakar Rao to join the event, they declined the invitation.

Both Vani Devi and Prabhakar Rao, along with others of their family, were present at an official event held by CM KCR at “Jnana Bhoomi” (PV’s memorial) on Necklace Road in Hyderabad on 28June, kick-starting the centenary celebrations. Not surprisingly, Congress leaders were shadowed by TRS and BJP leaders at the official event. KCR deftly passed resolutions at the meeting, urging the Centre to name University of Hyderabad after late PV, besides posthumously bestowing upon him the Bharat Ratna, etc. Now, the reports emanating from the ruling TRS suggest that Vani Devi would be made an MLC from the Governor’s quota which would be filled in August. An MLC is not a big thing for Vani Devi to switch loyalties from Congress to TRS, as already two of her late elder brothers—P.V. Ranga Rao and P.V. Rajeswar Rao—held minister and MP posts respectively. Ranga Rao was even made an MLC from the same Governor’s quota by late Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy government. What hurt most the PV family is the way the late PM was ignored and cold-shouldered by the Congress leadership once he demitted the office in 1996. Not only were a clutch of cases booked against him by various central investigating agencies, which were clearly in the hands of the governments that were backed by the same party, PV was denied a burial in Delhi when he died on 23 December 2004. Vani Devi was quoted in the media recalling how her father’s body was noteven allowed inside AICC headquarters for the public to paytheir homage and how the body was flown to Hyderabad, much against the wishes of the family. Though they haven’t made any public statement, PV’s family has taken a collective decision to boycott the TPCC’s centenary fete. Prabhakar Rao who, too, faced a gruelling urea scam for long years was quoted in the media on why AICC was not celebrating PV’s birth centenary and why it was left to TPCC, as if PV is a leader limited to just Telangana. PV’s family is clearly miffed over the dismissive attitude of the Congress leadership towards a former PM who heralded economic liberalisation and saved India from the brink of collapse in 1991. Some senior Congress leaders attribute the high command’s lukewarm response towards PV to his role in the demolition of Babri mosque, but they also admit that the late PM himself was eloquent on this at many forums, including in his autobiography “Insider”. For them, one thing is clear–Sonia and Rahul Gandhi like Manmohan Singh, but not PV, two Congress PMs outside Nehru-Gandhi family.

PV’s family (Rao had three sons and five daughters–late Ranga Rao, Sharada, late Rajeswara Rao, Vani Devi, Prabhakar Rao, Jaya and Vijaya, last are twins) has long been sidelined by Congress leaders much before the former premier’s demise. One of his grandsons, P.V. Subhash, son of Sharada, is in BJP as its national spokesperson. The local Congress leaders are on-the record claiming that PV was a “100 per cent Congressman” and that his legacy belonged to them, but off-the-record, they admit that the absence of his family members has robbed off that legacy. They also admit that if Vani Devi is made an MLC, it would benefit TRS in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation elections slated to be held early 2021.