Shiv Aroor’s take on why Bharat Ratna for former PM Narasimha Rao is significant

Five Bharat Ratnas announced so far this year, the highest ever with three announced just today alone. The Bharat Ratna roll call for 2024 is quota icon Karpoori Thakur, Ram Movement pioneer LK Advani, ex-prime minister and farmer leader Chaudhary Charan Singh, ex-prime minister and architect of India’s liberalisation PV Narasimha Rao and father of India’s green revolution Dr MS Swaminathan. That’s five.

But I wanted to focus on one of these five newly minted Bharat Ratnas because it stands out for me and many as something that carries an edge beyond the usual political symbolism. I’m talking about PV Narasimha Rao, a Congress prime minister who holds the distinction of not even being acknowledged, forget about being respected by his own party.

But to understand why PV Narasimha Rao was so disregarded by his own party and why today’s Bharat Ratna from the so-called enemy camp, the BJP, is so significant, we quickly need to look at how Rao even came to be prime minister of India.

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