Former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao was a multi-faceted personality who provided great leadership to India at a crucial juncture, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Monday.
Delivering the inaugural P V Narasimha Rao Memorial Lecture organised by Hyderabad Media House, Mukherjee praised him for his political sagacity and farsightedness that benefited the country immensely.
Rao was the father of economic reforms, architect of India's 'Look East' foreign policy and the leader who brought peace to terror-ravaged Punjab, the President said.
Recalling his association with Rao, Mukherjee said it began in 1970s and continued till the former Prime Minister breathed his last in 2004.
Both the leaders had worked together closely in Congress party and Union government in various capacities.
Rao took over as Prime Minister at a time when Congress as ruling party did not have majority in Lok Sabha and the economy was in a crisis with foreign currency reserves plummeting to around USD one billion, Mukherjee said.
Rao embarked on the path of economic reforms with boldness to steer the economy out of the problems and the selection of Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister was marvellous, he said.
The country is benefiting even today from the economic reforms initiated by Narasimha Rao, Mukherjee said.
Observing that Rao gave a new turn to the country's foreign policy, he said the 'Look East' policy, for which the initiative was taken by him, enabled ASEAN to emerge as a major trading partner of India.
The Constitution had to be amended to extend President's rule in Punjab as elections could not be held due to terrorism, he said.
Rao resolved the problem which was another display of his political sagacity and administrative competence. He succeeded in conducting elections in Punjab and the state is peacefully administered now, the President said.
Mukherjee hoped that the memorial lecture would be an annual affair.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, Governor E S L Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Rao's daughter Vani Devi and sons P V Ranga Rao, P V Rajeswara Rao and P V Prabhakar Rao and other family members were present on the occasion.
When Narasimha Rao used to rebuke Pranab
Pranab recalled that he used to be rebuked by then prime minister P.V. Narasimha Rao as he (Mukherjee) was not good at computers.
"He used to rebuke me because I am very bad in computers and he was quite excellent in computers. So sometime when I used to go to him with written draft or original text, he used to write below I don't want to see this, send me computer piece. Oh... but I don't know. I don't use," said a smiling Mukherjee recalling those days while delivering the inaugural P.V. Narasimha Rao memorial lecture here.
Mukherjee, who worked as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission and as a minister in Narasimha Rao's government, spoke about the late prime minister's contribution to science and technology saying it was one of his penchants.
The president said he was privileged to work under Narasimha Rao in various capacities.
"Since my memory goes, no Congress document was finalized unless it was vetted by Narasimha Rao because he was known to be a great draftsman and for mastery of language," said Mukherjee.