Cong erases PVN from its history

At 125th party anniversary, Sonia avoids mentioning Raos name

Cong erases PVN from its history

Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh release calendars at the 125th foundation day celebrations of the party in New Delhi on Monday. AP

As the party celebrated its 125th anniversary on Monday, president Sonia Gandhi left no one in doubt that Rao, who as prime minister between 1991 and 1996 ushered in economic liberalisation – but failed to save the Babri Masjid from the saffron brigade – has no place in the history of the party.

Speaking on the occasion of the Congress’ 125th anniversary; Gandhi recalled the role of the party’s icons in the pre and post independence era as well as prime ministers it has given to the nation since 1947 – Jawahar Lal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

But the Congress president did not ever mention the name of Rao. She, however, rather termed the 1991-2004 era, including the first five years, when Rao headed the Congress government, as “difficult” times in the history of the party.

“Those were the days when we saw some of the most difficult moments in our history. Those were the days when the very existence of our party had come under questions,” said Gandhi, adding: “Nonetheless, we soldiered on, anchored in our core values, and overcame many insurmountable odds.”

She was addressing a congregation of the Congress leaders and activists after laying the foundation of the party’s new central office – Indira Gandhi Bhavan – at Kotla Road here.
The ceremony also marked the beginning of the year-long celebration of the party’s 125th anniversary. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also addressed the conclave. Despite referring to economic liberalisation as one of the significant success-stories of  Congress governments in the past, the party president was not ready to give credit for it to Rao government.

“Rajivji did not stay with us to see his dreams being realised, but we can see reflections of his thoughts in the party manifesto for 1991 elections. That became the basis for economic policies for the next five years. These policies gave a new direction and strength to our economy and our society,” she said.

Singh was finance minister in Rao’s government and is credited with initiating the path-breaking reforms with the backing of the then PM.  He too said that the economic reforms had helped fight poverty in India, but did not ever speak about Rao.

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