Just two days ago, Congress president Sonia Gandhi praised former Prime Minister late PV Narasimha Rao for giving impetus to economic reforms, but on Thursday the party seemed to have shunned him again.
Barring a brief appearance by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was finance minister in the Rao government from 1991 and 1996, no other senior Congress leader was seen at a prayer meeting organised at Andhra Bhavan on Rao’s sixth death anniversary.
Union minister and National Conference president Farooq Abdullah, ex-Union minister MS Bitta, former election commissioner GVG Krishnamurthy and Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy were among those present.
While Singh is a regular, other Congress leaders avoid being seen at such meetings. A strong section in the party blames Rao for his political misjudgement on the Ayodhya issue and his failure to stop the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, since he was the prime minister.
The party has avoided mentioning his name in any of its programmes or documents. But Gandhi made a rare mention of Rao among Congress pantheons who have made their mark on the party’s history of 125 years in her opening address at the party's 83rd plenary on Sunday.
It came as a surprise to many for, nearly a year ago at the foundation-laying function of the Congress headquarters in Delhi, Gandhi had completely ignored him while praising the contributions of all prime ministers.
The move was then seen as aimed to stem dissidence in the Andhra Pradesh Congress, which is facing one of its worst crises due to the rebellion by Jaganmohan Reddy, son of late chief minister YSR Reddy. Jagan is now threatening to split the party and throw out the Kiran Kumar Reddy government.