Sunday, September 21, 2014

P.V.Narasimha Rao Cremation

Excerpt from The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjaya Baru

After Narasimha Rao died, I had accompanied Dr.Singh to Rao's house on Delhi's Motilal Nehru marg. As the PM entered the house, Patel pulled me aside. Narasimha Rao's children wanted the former PM to be cremated in Delhi, like other Congress prime ministers. Impressive memorials had been built for Nehru, Indira and Rajiv at the places where they had been cremated along the river Yamuna, adjacent to Mahatma Gandhi's memorial. Even former prime minister Charan Singh, who had not belonged to the Congress, and Sanjay Gandhi, who was only an MP, had been cremated and memorialized in the vicinity. However, Patel wanted me to encourage Narasimha Rao's sons, Ranga and Prabhakar, and his daughter, Vani, to take their father's body to Hyderabad for cremation. Clearly, it seemed to me, Sonia did not want a memorial for Rao anywhere in Delhi.

I reflected for a few minutes on Patel's request and felt it would not be appropriate for me to convey this message to the family. They had every right to make the demand they were making. Why should I involve myself in this matter? I kept my counsel and walked away, not saying a word about Patel's suggestion to Rao's children when I met them to express my condolences. Later that evening I was told the Congress Party had got Rao's family to agree to fly his body out to Hyderabad by deploying Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S.Rajashekhara Reddy to persuade them to fall in line. The Congress Party refused to allow Rao's body to be brought into the party's headquarters on its way to the airport, and Sonia chose not to be present at the Hyderabad cremation.

1 comment: