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December 23, 2004

P V Narasimha Rao, who passed away on Thursday, was on the verge of self-imposed retirement from public life when the turn of circumstances brought him to the prime minister's chair in 1991. The Congress was the single largest party in the Lok Sabha, but its prime ministerial candidate Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated in the midst of the election campaign.

It was not the best of times to be prime minister of the most raucous democracy. Along with a near-empty treasury, the nation had experienced a severe bout of political instability. But Rao not only steered the nation out of the corner it was in -- it was under his directions that finance minister Manmohan Singh launched the economic reforms -- he also became the first prime minister from outside the Gandhi-Nehru family to complete a full term in office.

Yes, controversies dogged his tenure: the Babri masjid demolition, stock market scam, Jain hawala scam and the JMM bribery scandal, plus Rao's association with godman Chandraswami which gave rise to speculation about power-brokers in the Delhi durbar.

Rao was also one of most erudite prime ministers the nation has had. His mastery over many languages, his understanding of international affairs, political acument combined with his low-key style, mark him out as among the leaders of the last century.

How do you view P V Narasimha Rao's legacy? Tell us.

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Number of User Comments: 463

Sub: PVN

PVN was arguably India's greatest Prime Minister. Although people forget that the roots of the IT revolution owe to the Janata Govt under Morarji Desai, ...

Posted by Alamelu Venkatachalam

Sub: PVN Rao

I think he was the best and the most practical Prime Minister we ever had. He did not create the never ending Kashmir problem. Had ...

Posted by murli nair

Sub: Enjoying his Fruits

We as a nation now are enjoying the fruits of the liberalization policies started by his government. I have respect for the Congress party and ...

Posted by John

Sub: best pm

he's the best pm we got

Posted by kapil

Sub: He was the best

I had just entered the working force then. I also had little grasp of political situation then - especially the perception of general public. After ...

Posted by Samar


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