It would be a “fantastic gesture” by the NDA government if it announces Bharat Ratna to former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao, said Sanjaya Baru, who has been media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“I think next week is the 95th birth anniversary of P V Narasimha Rao. It would be a fantastic gesture on the part of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi to announce ‘Bharat Ratna’ (to Rao),” he said in reply to a query from audience during a panel discussion to mark the 25th anniversary of Rao becoming India’s Prime Minister.
Mr Baru’s new book “1991-the year that changed India” would be released next month.
Mr Baru hailed the contributions of Mr Rao as the Prime Minister who initiated the economic reforms in the country and steered the country in difficult times.
Former CBI director K Vijayarama Rao and Mr Rao’s grandson Subhash, a BJP leader, were the other panelists in the discussion held last night.
Contrary to the “popular perception”, Mr Rao was elected as the Prime Minister by Congress MPs in 1991 and not nominated to the post, Mr Baru said on the occasion.
Dismissing the claims that Mr Rao only “implemented” suggestions on the economic reforms programme, he said it was Mr 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,” Mr Baru said.
Mr Subhash said a memorial for Mr Rao is being built in New Delhi and that the governments of both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have favoured conferring ‘Bharat Ratna’ on the former Prime Minister.