Hyderabad: Former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao throws open a legacy war, though posthumously, on his home turf. His birth centenary celebrations which commenced on Sunday turned out to be an occasion for a slugfest between the ruling Telangana Rastra Samithi (TRS) and the opposition Congress to own him up. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, launching the government-sponsored celebrations, whipped up a sentiment around the “son of the soil”.
In fact, it is the Congress which has produced Narasimha Rao or PV who played torch-bearer in liberating the moribund country with his bold economic reforms during his period as the Prime Minister. The diminutive Rao rose to be the tallest leader in the country with little patronage from people in his home state. The Congress, headed by Rajiv Gandhi, swept the national elections in 1984, winning 414 Lok Sabha seats with the help of a sympathy wave triggered by the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But PV lost his native Hanumakonda seat in that election. Later, he went to the parliament from Ramtek, his alma mater, in Maharashtra.
Why is he up for grabs for the TRS? Also, why is the Congress losing out on the legacy war?
Chandrasekhar Rao or KCR found a special love for Narasimha Rao 16 years after his death. The TRS leader is eying Rao’s Bramhin community which constitutes the third largest vote bank after Muslims and Backward Classes in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) ahead of elections due in the next six months, said an analyst, Raka Sudhakar Rao.
KCR wooing PV’s family
With AIMIM (All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen)’s Asaduddin Owaisi on its side, the KCR party aims to take on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its main poll rival in the GHMC polls. The Congress is fast losing its ground in the city since the period of its leader Banda Karthika Reddy as the Mayor of the GHMC (2009-2014). Brahmins continued to be the traditional vote bank for the BJP.
By batting for Bharat Ratna for PV, KCR got adored by Bramhins with “palabhishekam” in the twin cities in a way more than they honoured their community icon when he was alive. The TRS chief successfully brought PV’s daughter S. Vani Devi and son Prabhakar on his side while inaugurating the centenary birth celebrations on Sunday. It is rumoured that KCR is likely to send Vani Devi to the state Legislative Council as part of winning the war for PV’s legacy.
Congress in tizzy
The KCR’s politicking around PV obviously leaves the state Congress leadership in a tight spot. Narasimha Rao was known as a vocal leader opposed to disintegration of undivided Andhra Pradesh. He even lost his CM post in the heat of Jai Andhra movement and separate Telangana movement during 1969-72 that rocked the state then. Yet, the Telangana Congress leaders seems lacking the nerve to counter KCR, a staunch separatist who led the bifurcation of Telangana from Andhra Pradesh in 2014, embracing an integrationist. The Congress is caught between devil and the deep blue-sea. The local leaders of the Grand Old party fear backlash from their high command if they steadfastly hold on to the PV’s legacy. That PV failed to win Sonia’s favours during his period as a Prime Minister from outside the Nehru family is an open secret. The Telangana State Pradesh Congress Committee (TSPCC) constituted an organising committee with former minister J. Geeta Reddy as chairperson to hold the PV’s year-long birth centenary. But the Congress lacks the vigour it needs the most for the obvious reasons. With PV’s grandson NV Subhash as its spokesperson, the BJP too joined the legacy war in a desperate bid to protect its Bramhin vote bank.
GHMC with 1 crore out of the state’s 3.5crore population is pivot for the ruling TRS, so is for the other opposition parties. The KCR’s party was considered as an outside party for a long time until it strengthened its base by poaching powerful BC leaders like Talasani Srinivas Yadav of the TDP and Danam Nagendra from the Congress. After the death of P. Janardhan Reddy or PJR and Marri Sashidhar Reddy, son of former CM Marri Channa Reddy, lost the ground on his home turf Sanath Nagar, the Congress remained a force out of reckoning in GHMC.