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Hope history judges Narasimha Rao better than it has so far: Mukherjee, Singh


Press Trust of India New Delhi
Former president Pranab Mukherjee and former prime minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday hoped that history will judge P V Narasimha Rao in a better manner than it has done till now.
The two leaders were speaking at a function to award the first "P V Narasimha Rao National leadership and lifetime achievement award" to Singh at Teen Murti Bhawan. Mukherjee presented the award to Singh.
In his speech, Singh recalled how he did not take very seriously Rao's offer to be inducted in his cabinet as finance minister and said when he called him up, he told him that politicians make many promises and all promises do not fructify.
"I do feel I am honoured to participate in this award programme as it reminds the memory and contribution of that great son of India, P V Narasimha Rao ji, and I am quite sure that history will judge him in much better manner than we have done so in the contemporary period," said Mukherjee.
Singh too said, "I do sincerely believe that Narasimha Rao ji was a great son of our country. History will be much more kind to him than has been thus far. I am quite sure the history will record his immense contribution to the building of modern India".
Mukherjee said Singh has been chosen for the award because of the fact that as prime minister and finance minister he formed a team which laid the foundation of modern, vibrant and economically powerful India.
Singh said this award honours another "great son of India" and described Rao as a warm-hearted person.
He described Rao making him his finance minister as a "great act of kindness to me".
He recalled that P C Alexander, who was assisting Rao in forming the cabinet, met him and asked whether he would be ready to work with him as finance minister.
"I said I would be happy to do so provided the prime minister gave his full support in dealing with the difficult situation that our country was in matter of finance and balancing the economy," he said.
Singh said he had doubts whether Rao would in fact appoint him finance minister and so the next morning he went as usual to his office of the chairman of the University Grants Commission.
"Suddenly, I received a telephone call from Narasimha Rao ji and he asked me where I was and I told him I was at UGC. He then said did Dr Alexander not tell that I am inducting you in my cabinet.
"I said Sir, he did tell me but I did not take it very seriously. He said, 'Why'? I said politicians have many compulsions and sometimes their promises do not fructify. He laughed and said go home and get dressed up and come early for the swearing-in ceremony," Singh told the audience.
Mukherjee also lauded Singh's role as finance minister under Rao and said both Rao and Singh will be remembered for the liberalisation of the Indian economy during the early 1990s.
"As PM, Rao and his FM Manmohan Singh together formed a team which laid the foundation of a modern, vibrant economic power of India," he said, adding that economic liberalisation broke the fretters of growth that touched new heights under the liberalised economy.
Mukherjee described Singh as a "path breaker" who led us to a situation where the GDP grew at a much faster rate than the annual average rate of 3.5 per cent between 1951 and 1979.
"It is Dr Manmohan Singh who liberated the economy from the artificial bondage and brought it at par with the modern economy," Mukherjee said.
Singh earlier lauded Mukherjee, whom he described as a good friend, and hoped that "yours will be a voice of sanity which will prevail".
Singh said that governments have come and gone but the broad contours of the economy have been the same. He expressed the hope that history will record his contribution in a better way.
He said he received utmost love and affection during his association with Rao, who, he added, was known for putting an end to the licence permit raj.

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First Published: Feb 27 2019 | 10:45 PM IST

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