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Hamid Ansari releases the book ‘Half-Lion' on Narasimha Rao

By Lisa

India celebrates 95th birth anniversary of former prime minister Narasimha Rao today. In a tweet Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu mentioned that Narasimha Rao's leadership led India through a crucial transformational phase.

Two days back the Vice President M. Hamid Ansari addressed a gathering after releasing the book 'Half Lion' authored by Vinay Sitapati.

narasimhan rao

The book is diligently researched book and is a useful contribution to our knowledge of the time period during which Narasimha Rao led India.

Mr. Sitapati had the advantage of having access to the personal papers of Narasimha Rao including information or assessments on situations and personalities given to him by the Intelligence Bureau.

Vice President on Narasimha Rao:

"The good that Narasimha Rao did to the country lives after him; the harm too lives on and continues to extract a heavy toll."

"The country, and the world, acknowledges Narasimha Rao's role as the initiator for change in basic economic policies. On external affairs, his success "was due to cultivated expertise" as he made realistic assessment of the shifts in global power patterns and adjusted policy to India's immediate requirements."

"The crisis of 1991 was the catalyst; to him goes the credit for grasping the opportunity, for making commendable judgements on selection of personnel, and for manoeuvring the changes very deftly through the shoals and rapids of a divided polity; the budget of July 1991 and its aftermath was a good example."

"Through an approach of 'buying time,' he resisted or diverted external pressures, blunted Pakistan's onslaught internationally, and for reasons of domestic political calculus intentionally did not avail of an opportunity to settle one aspect of the confrontation. With an eye on international opinion, he put in place a statutory institution for scrutiny of human right violations."

Some interesting quotes from the book 'Half Lion':

"The first was a nightmare by any standard. The Congress was around 10 seats short of a majority. The opposition was split between a rightwing BJP and a left wing National Front. The Prime Minister was perceived to be weak; so his focus was on wide ranging consultations with the opposition to ascertain issues and seek a consensus on the parliamentary agenda: 'The areas of agreement we will concentrate on, the areas of disagreement we will keep aside, if possible.' This was facilitated by the extensive personal contacts he had developed over years."

"The nemesis came with the trust vote of July 26, 1992. Survival at all cost was the government's objective. Unethical tactics were resorted to; these were eventually also found to be beyond the pale of law."

"He should have acted between November 1 and 24 and that his faith in sundry interlocutors - whose names are given in chapter 12 - was misplaced. Rao wanted to protect the mosque and protect Hindu sentiments and protect himself. He ended up with the mosque destroyed, Hindus un-attracted to the Congress, and his own reputation in tatters."

"To this should be added details of the contingency plans given by the then Home Secretary in his book. These included 'the very limited use of Article 355' (the duty of the Union to protect the State against internal disturbance'). The conclusion is unavoidable that the hesitation to act was propelled by political, rather than constitutional considerations."

Vice President on the book:

"I personally found the book very interesting. It is diligently researched; the end notes shed light on the sources and their orientation."

"Two sections of the book would invite commentary. These relate to the management of Parliament and to the demolition of Babri Masjid."

"The book is a useful contribution to our knowledge of that period. I congratulate Shri Sitapati for it.

Tributes pour in for Narasimha Rao:

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