The centenary celebrations of the father of India's economic reforms in 1991, PV Narasimha Rao, were kicked off today with two surprising additions to the chorus of praise for the former Prime Minister.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul have rarely been the most enthusiastic voice acknowledging the contribution of Rao to India's economic growth story. But on Friday, she said that the grand old party takes pride in Rao's accomplishments and contribution.
The Telangana unit of the Congress has launched the centenary celebrations of the former Prime Minister, who hailed from Vangara in Warangal district.
"PV Narasimha Rao's tenure was also marked by a number of political, social and foreign policy achievements that have endured. Above all he was a dedicated Congress man who served the party devotedly in various capacities," she said.
Congratulating the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee for having organised the year long celebrations, she said, "PV Narasimha Rao was a very respected national and international figure. The Congress party takes pride in his many accomplishments and contributions."
The birth centenary of Rao is an occasion to recall and pay tribute to a most scholarly and erudite personality who after a long career in state and national politics, the Prime Minister of the country at a time of "grave economic crisis", she added.
Interestingly, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had missed mentioning Rao's contribution while launching the year-long celebrations to mark 125 years of Congress in 2009.
Rahul, on the other hand, commemorated Rao for his role in the 1991 economic reforms.
"July 24 marks the 29th anniversary of the 1991 budget. On this day, India embarked on a bold new path of economic transformation. PV Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh played a pivotal role in ushering in the era of liberalisation," Rahul Gandhi wrote in a letter congratulating the Telangana unit.
He further hailed Rao -- a former Andhra Pradesh chief minister, foreign minister and Union home minister -- for his grit and determination and said that his journey from teenage worker to the premiership was a remarkable one.
Political observers have noted that Rao has been a "great unmentionable" within the Congress party due to his apparent failure in stopping the demolition of Babri Masjid and his sidelining of the Gandhi family after the assassination of former PM Rajiv Gandhi.
The Congress' first family recalling the contributions of Rao, who was the first non-Gandhi PM to complete five years in power, comes at a time when there have been speculations that the BJP at the Centre and TRS in Telangana want to appropriate the legacy of Rao.