New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh today lavished praise on former Prime Minister late Narsimha Rao calling him political “Chanakya” for managing economic reforms and rued that “99.99 per cent of Congress party believed he conspired” to have the Babri Masjid demolished.
Crediting him for bringing about economic reforms in 1991,Ramesh said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was the finance minister under Rao, could not have done so much on reform front without the mentoring by the then prime minister.
Talking about the “problem” Congress had with Rao, Ramesh said “99.99 percent of Congress party believes that Narsimha Rao conspired to have the Babri Masjid demolished and paved the way for its demolition.”
Ramesh, however, said he did not believe in this “conspiracy theory” that Rao “actively” wanted the mosque to be demolished.
“I think he overestimated his ability to deal with the RSS,” he said at an event here based on his book ‘To The Brink And Back’ on 1991 economic crisis and the following reforms.
On the reform issue, Ramesh said,”Dr Manmohan Singh has been rightly given credit for design of the economic reforms of 1991 but unfortunately the then Prime Minister Narsimha Rao does not get credit for political management of the reforms.”
“Without Narsimha Rao, Manmohan Singh could not have done what he did just as without Manmohan Singh, Narsimha Rao could not have done what he did. It was unique Jugalbandi of two people from two different worlds drawn together by the crisis,” he said.
The book deals with the period between June-August 1991, essentially the 33 days when under “compulsion” of the unprecedented economic crisis Rao and Manmohan Singh kicked off the reform measures including new fiscal, industrial and trade policies, he said.
“Both in their own way, one in a technocratic way, one in a political way were able to craft an appropriate response to the crisis.”
There was no consensus in the prevailing political situation in 1991 and besides the industry, BJP and Left parties even Congress itself was “badly divided” over the reforms, he said.
“The story in the book is how this completely Machiavellian character called Narsimha Rao in 33 days could summon up the courage to transform the Indian economy . It is story about how Manmohan Singh and Narsimha Rao combined to override not only the objections within the party but also take other political parties and stakeholders along.”
Terming Narsimha Rao as political “Chanakya”, the former Union minister said he was able to “defang” opposition to economic reforms not only from within the Congress but also by other parties which was a truly remarkable feat.
“Rao was a political Chanakya of highest order. Forget the other parties, he defanged opposition to the reforms from his own party and set it on a particular course which is truly remarkable.
“Without facebook, twitter, Instagram, he communicated what he wanted to communicate, he spoke less and listened more, did not project himself as a know all. He projected himself as a total Buddhu but in the hearts of heart he was an arrogant Chanakya,” Ramesh said of the leader with whom the Gandhi family did not share the best of relationship