Contrary to the popular perception, P V Narasimha Rao was elected as the Prime Minister by Congress MPs in 1991 and not nominated to the post, senior journalist Sanjaya Baru said on Tuesday.
“On 19th May (1991) Sharad Pawar announced that he was a candidate. Arjun Singh announced that he was a candidate and Narasimha Rao also announced that he was a candidate. On 20th June 1991, the Congress Parliamentary Party elected Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister, because majority of the members from entire south India, even Orissa and Bengal, wanted Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister” Baru said in Hyderabad.
“Only the MPs from Maharashtra supported Sharad Pawar. Some of the MPs from north India supported Arjun Singh. So, Narasimha Rao was an elected Prime Minister. He was not nominated. He was not selected,” Baru said.
Baru, who has worked as media adviser to the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was speaking at a panel discussion to mark the 25th anniversary of Rao becoming the Prime Minister. Baru’s new book “1991-the year that changed India” would be released in June.
Former RBI Governor I G Patel was Rao’s first choice for Finance Minister’s post and he approached Manmohan Singh after Patel declined the offer, Baru mentioned.
Dismissing the claims that Rao only implemented suggestions on the economic reforms programme, he said it was Rao who decided to implement the policies.
“Various committees submitted a series of reports suggesting various policy changes. None of these policy changes were implemented during the five years when Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister. He had 400 MPs in Parliament… It was Narasimha Rao who decided to implement those policies.”
Alleging that Congress refused to recognise Rao’s role in steering the country in difficult times, Baru claimed that the party even removed him from history books.
Former CBI director Vijayarama Rao said Rao did whatever he could to prevent the demolition of Babri masjid in Ayodhya.
Narasimha Rao’s grandson Subhash, a BJP leader, hoped that the Centre would bestow Bharat Ratna on the departed leader.