P V Narasimha Rao addressing Congress (I) members (File photo)

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi recalled the role of the late P V Narasimha Rao on his birth centenary year as a “scholar rooted in culture and a freedom fighter”, a remembrance that had political overtones since India’s ninth PM has been largely ignored by his Congress party in the light of his differences with the Gandhi family.
So while it was the odd senior Congress leader like Ahmed Patel who paid tributes, Modi in his monthly radio talk recalled that Rao, as a 17-year-old youth, participated in mass protests against the ban on singing of Vande Matram by the Nizam of Hyderabad and said the late leader steered the country at a time of crisis.
“India is paying homage to one of her former prime ministers, who led the country through a critical phase. This day marks the commencement of the birth centenary year of our former PM P V Narasimha Raoji,” Modi said, adding that Rao was a true polyglot.
Modi’s praise is significant because of the rift that developed between Rao, the first Congress PM outside the Gandhi family to have completed a full term, and the Gandhis. BJP has often accused the Nehru-Gandhi family of ignoring PMs like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Rao.
“He was one of the most experienced leaders of India. But there is another aspect of his life which is remarkable that we should know. Narasimha Raoji had joined the freedom movement in his teens and when the Nizam of Hyderabad refused permission to sing Vande Mataram, he took an active part in the movement against the Nizam… he raised his voice against injustice,” Modi said.
“His rise from a very simple background, his emphasis on education, his eagerness to learn, and, along with all these qualities, his leadership ability are all memorable,” the PM said and urged people to know about his life and thoughts.

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