Category Archives: Biosketch

Rajju Bhayya – Nuclear Physics Professor who became Sarsanghchalak

Prof. Rajendra Singh (29 January 1922 – 14 July 2003 ), popularly called Rajju Bhaiya, was the fourth Sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh between 1994 and 2000.

He worked as a professor and head of the Department of Physics at Allahabad University but left to devote his life  for the Sangh in the mid-1960s. Rajju Bhaiyya was acknowledged as an exceptionally brilliant student by Sir C. V. Raman, the physicist and Nobel Prize-winner, when he was his examiner in M.Sc. He also offered Singh a fellowship for advanced research in nuclear physics.

He joined Allahabad University after majoring in Physics to teach Spectroscopy. He taught at the university for several years, where later he was appointed head of the Physics Department. He was also considered an expert in nuclear physics which was very rare those days in India. He was a very popular teacher of the subject, using simplicity and clear concepts.

With the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh :

Singh was active in the Quit India Movement of 1942 and it was during this time that he came in contact with the RSS. From then onwards the Sangh influenced his life. He resigned from his university post in 1966 and offered full-time services to the RSS as a ‘prant pracharak’ of  Uttar Pradesh, . He was later entrusted with responsibility of  Sar Karyavaha (General Secretary) in the 1980s. In 1994, he was nominated to succeed BalaSahebji  Deoras as Sarsanghchalak.

While in Uttar Pradesh, he worked with Lal Bahadur Shastri, Chandra Shekhar and V.P. Singh. Murali Manohar Joshi was also one of his best students.

Rajju Bhaiyya shared an excellent rapport with political leaders cutting across ideological lines besides academicians, social workers and intellectuals. He abdicated the post of Sarsanghchalak on account of his failing health in February 2000 and nominated the K. S. Sudarshan ji for the post.

During emergency he went underground and toured whole India. He was also responsible for organizing human rights convention presided by Justice VM Tarkunde in Delhi in 1976. He was also responsible for setting up friends of India Society International.

One of his most important beliefs was: “All people are basically nice. One should deal with every person by believing in his goodness. Anger, jealousy, etc. are the offshoots of his past experiences, which affect his behavior. Primarily every person is nice and everyone is reliable.”

Rajju Bhaiyya was a firm believer in the concept of Swadeshi and empowering rural economy. Initiating the rural developmental activities, he had declared in 1995 that the utmost priority should be given in making the villages hunger-free, disease-free and educative. Today, there are over 100 villages where the rural development work done by swayamsevaks has inspired the people of surrounding villages and their experiments are being emulated by those people.

Addressing the Vijayadashami festival at Nagpur in 1995, Singh remembered Mohandas K. Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri. He challenged the way in which the central government was working on fulfilling the dreams of these two statesmen.

Rajju Bhaiyya wanted to establish a memorial named after Bismil in Delhi, the capital of India. He died on 14 July 2003 at Kaushik Ashram in Pune, Maharashtra.

Writer – Anonymous

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లచిత్ బోర్ఫూకన్ – మొఘల్ ఆక్రమణ ను అడ్డుకున్న అహోం వీరుడు

భారత్ లో ఢిల్లీ సుల్తాన్లు, మొఘల్  ఆక్రమణ ప్రయత్నాలను పదేపదే తిప్పికొట్టిన ఏకైక రాష్ట్రం అసోం. ఏకంగా 17 దురాక్రమణ ప్రయత్నాలను ఆరాష్ట్రం నిర్వీర్యం చేసింది. భారత్ లో ఈశాన్య ప్రాంతాన్ని ముస్లిం దండయాత్రల నుంచి లచిత్ బోర్ ఫూకన్, ఇతర సాహస సేనాపతులు, రాజులు కాపాడారు.లచిత్ బోర్ ఫూకన్ అహోం రాజధానికి సైన్యాధిపతిగా ఉండేవాడు. మొఘల్ దళాలు 1671లో చేసిన సుదీర్ఘ ఆక్రమణ ప్రయత్నాన్ని తిప్పికొట్టిన సరాయిఘాట్ యుద్ధంలో రామసింగ్ I నేతృత్వంలో వీరోచిత పోరాటం చేసి కామరూప్ ని తిరిగి సాధించిన  ఘనత లచిత్  దే.

పదిహేడో శతాబ్దం మధ్యలో మొఘల్ సామ్రాజ్య వైభవం పరాకాష్టలో ఉంది. ప్రపంచంలోనే అతి పెద్ద, అతి గొప్ప సామ్రాజ్యాలలో ఒకటైన మొఘల్ సామ్రాజ్యంకింద అంతే శక్తిమంతమైన సైన్యం ఉండేది. దౌర్జన్యంతో కానీ, రాజీతో కానీ భారత్ లో అత్యధిక శాతాన్ని ఆక్రమించుకున్న మొఘల్ రాజులు మతపరమైనహింసకు, అత్యాచారాలకు పాల్పడడంతో వరుసగా తిరుగుబాటులు, విప్లవాలు వెల్లువెత్తి చివరకి మొత్తం సామ్రాజ్యం చరిత్ర చెత్తబుట్టలోకి కుప్పకూలింది.

మోమాయ్ తమూలి రాజా ప్రతాప సింహ హయాంలో అహోం దళాలకు మొదటి బోర్ బారువా సైనికాధిపతిగా ఉండేవారు. తన కుమారుడు లచిత్రాచరికానికి అవసరమైన అన్ని విద్యల్లో సరైన అభ్యాసం పొందేలా తమూలీ శ్రద్ధ పెట్టారు. విద్యాభ్యాసం ముగించుకున్న లచిత్ ను అహోం స్వర్గదేవ్ కి ప్రైవేటుకార్యదర్శి హోదాలో రుమాలు మోసేవాడిగా నియమించారు.

దేక్సోట్ కోయి ముమై దంగోర్ నోహోయ్” – మా మామయ్య మా దేశం కంటే గొప్ప కాదు.

Lachit leading his troops

అచంచలమైన కర్తవ్య పాలన, విశ్వాసం, శ్రద్ధ లచిత్ తన తండ్రి నుంచి నేర్చుకున్నాడు.  యుద్ధానికి పూర్తిగా సన్నద్ధం కావడం ప్రారంభించాడు. ఎంతోకఠినమైన నాయకుడైన లచిత్ తన కర్తవ్యం పట్ల ఎంత శ్రద్ధ కలిగినవాడు అంటే, యుద్ధంలో ఒక ముఖ్యమైన ఘట్టంలో తన విధుల్లో నిర్లక్ష్యం చూపినకారణంగా తన సొంత మామనే తల నరకడానికి వెనుదీయలేదు.

అహోం భూభాగ విముక్తి 

1667 ఆగస్ట్ లో లచిత్, అటన్ బుర్హాగోహిన్ వెంట రాగా, అహోం యుద్ధవీరులను గౌహతి వైపు నడిపించాడు. 1667 నవంబర్ లో ఇటాఖులి కోటను స్వాధీనం చేసుకుని, ఆ తర్వాత ఫౌజ్ దార్ ఫిరుజ్ ఖాన్ ను బందీగా పట్టుకుని మొఘల్ దళాలను మానస్ అవతలకి తరిమికొట్టాడు.
1667 డిసెంబర్ లో అహోం వీరుల చేతుల్లో మొఘల్ దళాలు ఓడిపోయిన విషయం నిరంకుశ రాజు ఔరంగజేబుకి తెలిసింది. కోపోద్రిక్తుడైన ఔరంగజేబు రాజా రామ్ సింగ్ నేతృత్వంలో ఒక భారీ సైన్యం అహోం ల పైన దాడి చేసి, వారిని ఓడించాలని ఆదేశించాడు. అదనంగా తన సైన్యానికి 30,000 మంది పదాతి దళాలు, 21 మంది రాజ్ ఫుట్ అధిపతులు, వారి సైన్యాలు, 18,000 మంది అశ్విక దళం, 2,000 మంది విలువిద్యా నిపుణులు, 40 నౌకలను రామ్ సింగ్ 4,000 మంది చార్ హజారీ మన్సబ్, 1500 మంది ఆహాదీ, 500 మంది బర్ఖ్అందేజే  దళాలకు చేర్చాడు. 

రణ స్థలం ఎంపిక 

మొఘల్స్ ఇటువంటి చర్య తీసుకుంటారని బోర్ ఫ్యూకం ముందే ఊహించాడు. అందువల్ల, గౌహతి మీద అదుపు సాధించిన వెంటనే అతను అహోం భూభాగం చుట్టూ రక్షణ వలయాన్ని పటిష్టం చేశాడు. బ్రహ్మపుత్ర నదిని ఒక సహజ రక్షణ కవచంగా వాడుకుని, నది గట్లను పటిష్టం చేశాడు. మైదాన ప్రాంతంలో మొఘల్స్ తో పోరాటం అసంభవమని అతనికి తెలుసు. అందువల్ల తెలివిగా  గౌహతి వెలుపల అహోం యుద్ధవీరులకు అనువుగా ఉండే కొండ, అటవీ ప్రాంతాలను ఎంచుకున్నాడు.

గౌహతి పై దాడి, అలబోయ్ 

యుద్ధం
మొఘల్ దళాలు 1669 మార్చ్ లో గౌహతిపై దాడి చేసి, ఏడాది పాటు ఆ నగరమైన తమ పట్టు కొనసాగించారు. ఆ మొత్తం కాలంలో కూడా అహోం ప్రజలు గట్టి భద్రతా ఏర్పాటు చేసుకోవడంతో మొఘల్ సైన్యం ఏమీ చేయలేకపోయింది. అలవాటు లేని వాతావరణం, పరిచితమైన భూభాగం వల్ల వారు దెబ్బతిన్నారు. అహోం లు ఈ పరిస్థితిని పూర్తిగా తమకు అనువుగా వాడుకుని, మొఘల్ దళాలపై గెరిల్లా దాడులు నిర్వహించేవారు.

అప్పుడు మొఘల్ నాయకులు మోసపూరితంగా అహోం ల మధ్య అసమ్మతి తీసుకొచ్చి, చీలిక కోసం ప్రయత్నించారు. లచిత్ ని ఉద్దేశించిన ఒక లేఖతో  ఒక బాణాన్ని వారు అహోం శిబిరంలోకి ప్రయోగించారు. లచిత్ గౌహతి ఖాళీ చేయిస్తే లక్ష రూపాయలు ఇస్తామని అందులో ఉంది. ఈ సంఘటన గురించి తెలిసిన అహోం రాజుకి లచిత్ విశ్వాసపాత్రత గురించి సందేహం వచ్చింది. అయితే, అటన్ బుర్హాగోహైన్ ఆ సందేహాలను పటాపంచలు చేశాడు.

ఆ ప్రయత్నం విఫలం కావడంతో మొఘల్స్ మైదానంలో పోరాటానికి అహోం లను మోసపూర్తితంగా రప్పించారు. ఇదొక సవాల్ గా తీసుకోవాలని అహోం రాజు లచిత్ ని ఆదేశించాడు. మీరు నవాబ్ నేతృత్వంలో మొఘల్ సైన్యంలో ఒక చిన్న దళం, అలబోయ్ లో అహోం సైన్యంతో తలపడాలి. అహోం వీరులు విస్తృతంగా ఏర్పాట్లు చేసుకుని తమ అదనపు దళాలను, ఆయుధాలను కందకాల్లో దాచిపెట్టారు. దీనితో అహోం లు మీరు నవాబ్ పైన విజయం సాధించగలిగారు. దీనితో ఆగ్రహించిన మొఘల్ నాయకులు తమ సైన్యం యావత్తునూ రంగంలోకి దించడంతో పది వేళా మంది అహోం సైనికులను ఊచకోత కోశారు.

ఈ పరాజయంతో లచిత్ తన సైనికులను ఇటాఖులీ వరకు ఉపసంహరించాడు. ఇంకా యుద్ధం జరుగుతూ ఉండగా, అహోం రాజు చక్రద్వాజా సింహ మరణించాడు. ఆయన కుమారుడు ఉదయాదిత్య సింహ గద్దెనెక్కాడు.  మొఘల్ పన్నాగాలేవి ఫలించకపోవడంతో రామ్ సింగ్ గౌహతి విడిచిపెట్టి 1639లో సంతకాలు చేసిన పాత ఒప్పందానికి మళ్ళీ కట్టుబడేందుకు అహోం లకు 300,000 లక్షల రూపాయలు ఇస్తానని బేరం పెట్టాడు. అయితే ఢిల్లీలో నిరంకుశ ప్రభువు ఈ ఒప్పందానికి కట్టుబడడు అన్న తీవ్ర అనుమానంతో అటన్ బుర్హాగోహైన్  ఈ ప్రతిపాదనను వ్యతిరేకించాడు.

ఇదిలా ఉండగా, మొఘల్ నౌకాదళ అధిపతి మునావర్ ఖాన్ రామ్ సింగ్ ని కలిసి అహోం లతో యుద్ధం చేయాలి కానీ మైత్రి కాదన్న ఔరంగజేబు మందలింపు సందేశాన్ని అందించాడు. దీనితో రామ్ సింగ్ పూర్తి స్థాయి యుద్ధానికి దిగవలసి వచ్చింది. అంధారు బాలి వద్ద నది గాట్లు తెగినట్లు అతనికి సమాచారం అందింది. ఆ సమయంలో లచిత్ తీవ్రమైన అనారోగ్యంతో మంచం పట్టి, యుద్ధానికి ఏర్పాట్లు పర్యవేక్షించలేకపోయాడు.

ఓటమి కోరల నుంచి విజయం

అలబోయ్ లో తమ పోరాటంలో మొఘల్స్ చేతిలో ఓటమి కారణంగా అహోం సైన్యం నిరుత్సాహంతో కుంగిపోయింది. శత్రువులకు చెందిన పెద్ద పడవలు తమ వైపు వస్తుంటే చూసి వారు భయకంపితులై, అక్కడ నుంచి పారిపోవడానికి సిద్ధపడ్డారు. ఇది చూసి, లచిత్ వెంటనే తన కోసం ఏడు పడవలను సిద్ధం చేయమని, మంచం మీద నుంచి బలవంతంగా లేచి, పడవ ఎక్కాడు. ఏది ఏమైనా, ఏం జరిగినా తానూ తన దేశాన్ని విడిచిపెట్టేది లేదని ప్రతిజ్ఞ చేశాడు. తమ అధిపతి లేచి, శక్తి కూడగట్టుకుని నిలబడడం అహోం సైన్యానికి కొత్త ధైర్యాన్ని ఇచ్చింది. సైనికులందరూ లచిత్ వెంట వెళ్లి నిలబడడంతో, మళ్ళీ సైన్యం పరిమాణం పెరిగింది.

అహోం లు తమ చిన్న పడవలను తీసుకుని ముందుకి సాగగా, లచిత్ వారిని మొఘల్ సైన్యంతో నది మధ్యలో ముఖాముఖి పోటీకి తీసుకుని వెళ్ళాడు.  మొఘల్ సైన్యానికి చెందిన పెద్ద నౌకల కంటే, చిన్న అహోం పదవులకి నది నీటిలో వెసులుబాటు ఎక్కువ ఉండడంతో, పెద్ద నౌకలు చిక్కుకుని పోయాయి. అప్పుడు జరిగిన పోరాటంలో మొఘల్ సైన్యాన్ని చిత్తుగా ఓడించారు. మొఘల్ నౌకాదళాధిపతి మునావర్ ఖాన్, అనేకమంది కమాండర్లు, పెద్ద సంఖ్యలో సైనికులు మరణించారు.

అహోం లు తమ భూభాగానికి పశ్చిమ సరిహద్దు అయినా మానస్ వరకు మొఘల్స్ ని తరిమికొట్టారు. మొఘల్స్ నుంచి ఎదురు దాడుల కోసం ఎప్పుడూ అప్రమత్తంగా ఉండాలని లచిత్ తన సైనికులను హెచ్చరించాడు. ఈ సంఘటనలన్నీ కూడా 1671 మార్చ్ మాసంలో జరిగి ఉంటాయని భావిస్తున్నారు.

మొఘల్ దళాలపై యుద్ధం గెలిచి, అహోంల వైభవాన్ని పునరుద్ధరించిన లచిత్ మాత్రం యుద్ధం తాలూకు దుష్ప్రభావాలతో కుంగిపోయారు. అప్పుడు అస్వస్థతకు గురైన లచిత్ 1672 ఏప్రిల్ లో మరణించాడు.

వారసత్వం

Lachit Memorial at Naval Defence Academy

హూలంగాపారాలో మహారాజ ఉదయాదిత్య సింగ్ నిర్మించిన లచిత్ మైదానంలో 1672లో ఆయనకు తుది విశ్రాంతి కల్పించారు. ఆయన విగ్రహాన్ని 2000 సంవత్సరంలో అప్పటి అసోం గవర్నర్ లెఫ్టినెంట్ జనరల్ SK సిన్హా  ఖడక్ వాస్లాలోని జాతీయ డిఫెన్స్ అకాడమీలో ఆవిష్కరించారు. ప్రతి ఏడాది పాస్ అవుట్ అయ్యే అత్యుత్తమ క్యాడెట్ కు లచిత్ పతకాన్ని బహుకరిస్తారు. భారతమాత ముద్దుబిడ్డ అయిన లచిత్ ని గుర్తు తెచ్చుకునేందుకు ప్రతి నవంబర్ 24ను లచిత్ దివస్ గా జరుపుకుంటారు.

  • తెలుగు అనువాదం ఉషా తురగా రేవెల్లి

In English

Jhansi Rani Lakshmibai – An Empress of Limitless Glory

JHANSI RANI LAKSHMIBAI

Jhansi RaniManikarnika, aka Rani Jhansi Lakshmibai played an extremely heroic role of the War of India’s  Freedom. She lived for only twenty-two years. She became a widow in her eighteenth year. Jhansi, of which she was the queen, was in the grip of the cunning, cruel British. She was the embodiment of patriotism, self-respect and heroism. She was the queen of a small state, but the empress of a limitless empire of glory.

Jhansi Rani Lakhsmi Bai brought glory to the women of Indian, nay to the women of the world. Her life was sacred hymn. Her life is a thrilling story of womanliness, courage, adventure, deathless patriotism and martyrdom.

She was a woman although in her tender body there was a lion’s spirit. But she was well versed in statesmanship. Like all women she was weak. But when she went to war and took up arms she was the very embodiment of the War Goddess Kali. She was beautiful and frail. But her radiance made men diffident. She was young in years. But her foresight and firm decisions were mature.

When, after growing up under the loving care of her father, she entered her husband’s house she became an ideal wife. On the death of her husband although she lost interest in life she did not forget her responsibilities.  She lead her army in the War for Independence.

Lakhsmi Bai lived but for 22 years and seven months – from the 19th of November 1835 to the 18th of June 1858; she flashed and disappeared like lightning on a dark night.

The words of the British General Sir Hugh Rose, who fought against the Rani several times and was defeated again and again, and finally defeated the Rani (who became the victim of circumstances) bear witness to her greatness:  “Of the mutineers the bravest and the greatest commander was the Rani.”

Smt. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan immortalized her by the following poem

Sinhasan hil uthey raajvanshon ney bhrukuti tani thi, budhey Bharat mein aayee phir se nayi jawani thi, gumee huee azadi ki keemat sabney pehchani thi, door phirangi ko karney ki sab ney man mein thani thi. Chamak uthi san sattavan mein, yeh talwar purani thi, Bundeley Harbolon key munh hamney suni kahani thi, Khoob ladi mardani woh to Jhansi wali Rani thi

Read the full poem here

Bhagwan Birsa Munda

Birsa Munda was one of the most prominent vanvasi ( forest dwellers) leaders and freedom fighters of Bharat  in the 19th Century. He led the famous “Ulgulaan” (meaning the great tumult) movement towards the end of 19th Century. He is worshiped almost like a God esp amongst the people of Munda community – such is the respect and adulation that Birsa Munda commands from his people.

Birsa Munda was born on 15th November 1875 to to Sugana Munda and Karami Haatu in Ulihatu Village of Ranchi . After his primary education in Saalga Village, he went to Chaibasa English Middle School. He was disturbed by the atrocities meted out by the British on his people. Even in School debates, he was vociferous in his advocacy for the cause of “Jal, Jungle aur Jameen” (water, forests and land) of the vanavasis.

In those days, a Christian missionary by the name Dr. Notret was active in the area and he tried to entice the Munda people into converting to Christianity by promising to get the British to return the land that they had usurped. But in 1886-87 when the Chiefs of Mundas launched an agitation to reclaim their lands from the British, all the missionaries admonished them and helped the British in a brutal suppression of the movement. Birsa Munda was aghast by this and revolted. He was terminated from his school and had to return along with his parents to his village.

The years form 1886-1890 were the formative years for Birsa Munda. These were the years which shook up Birsa from the inside and gave rise to an intense feeling of revenge and restoration of self-respect & pride. He was influenced a lot by the revolts of the Santhals, the Chuars and the Kol janajaatis ( tribes) . The piquant position of his tribe and great threat to their social, cultural and religious ethos sowed the seeds of rebellion in him. He resolved to restore the pride and self-rule of his people. His efforts to unite the Munda people were so successful that the British grew increasingly worried and uncomfortable. He “Birsaayit” and stressed on simplicity, devotion and brotherhood. He gave the slogan of “British go back” and called for restoration of traditional democracy. He said that the “Queen’s rule will be gone and the Abua rule will come!”

On 1st October 1894, as a young leader, he launched a movement for “lagaan-maafi” (exemption of land tax). He was arrested in 1895 and lodged in Hazaribagh central prison for two years. But the influence of Birsa only kept increasing and he came to be known as “Dharti Baba.” The flame of revolution amongst the tribal people was well and truly lit.

There were several clashes between the followers of Birsa Munda and the British in the years 1897-1900. In August 1897, 400 soldiers of the Birsa Army, armed with their bows and arrows attacked the Khunti Police station and won. In 1898 also, in another battle fought on the banks of river Tanga, the Birsa army defeated the British. However, the British struck back and arrested scores of their leaders. A lot of women and children also lost their lives in crackdown.

Birsa Munda was arrested along with 482 other members of his guerilla army on 3rd February, 1900 and was lodged in the Ranchi Prison. 15 different charges were slapped against him. Charges could be proved only against 98 of the 482 people arrested. Gaya Munda, a close confidante of Birsa Munda, and his son Sanare Munda were hanged to death.

On 1st June 1900, the jail doctor declared that Birsa Munda was afflicted with Cholera and on 9th June 1900 he was declared dead.

In all of 25 years, Birsa Munda achieved so much that he became revered almost like a God. He was the one who gave the tribal people pride, respect and confidence in their own culture, religion, society and nation. He was the one who opened the eyes of his people to the motives and machinations of the Christian evangelists and the British. He was a great freedom fighter whose contributions are celebrated till date.

 

It is to the credit of Birsa Munda and his revolt that the British were forced to enact a new law in form of Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908 under which the sale of Tribal lands to the non-tribal people was prohibited.

Let’s take a moment to remember and salute this great son of India – Birsa Munda.

  • Translated from Hindi by Sri Ashish Naredi 

How PV Narasimha Rao was humiliated in death by Sonia lead Congress

The corpse was clad in white dhoti and golden silk kurta. At 2.30 p.m., it was brought from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences to 9 Motilal Nehru Marg. P.V. Narasimha Rao, prime minister of India from 1991 to1996, had died at around 11 a.m., 23 December 2004. The doctors had needed a couple of hours to dress the body before sending it back home.

One of the first people to arrive at Rao’s house was Chandraswami, the bearded guru who had known him since 1971. Also present were his eight sons and daughters —whom he had kept at a distance — as well as the nephews and grandchildren he had been closer to. Eldest son, Ranga Rao — who had fought bitterly with his father — inconsolable.

Then began the politics.

The home minister, Shivraj Patil, suggested to Rao’s youngest son, Prabhakara, that ‘the body should be cremated in Hyderabad’. But the family preferred Delhi. After all, Rao had last been chief minister of Andhra Pradesh more than thirty years ago, and had since worked as Congress general secretary, Union minister, and finally primeminister — all in Delhi. On hearing this, the usually decorous Shivraj Patil snapped, ‘No one will come.’

Kashmiri Congressman Ghulam Nabi Azad, another aide of party president Sonia Gandhi, arrived. He too requested the family to move the body to Hyderabad. An hour later, Prabhakara received a call on his mobile phone. It was Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Congress chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and no friend of Narasimha Rao’s. ‘I just heard about it,’ Reddy said, ‘I am near Anantapur, and I’ll be in Delhi by this evening. Take it from me. We will give him a grand funeral [in Hyderabad].’

At 6.30 p.m., Sonia Gandhi entered the house in Motilal Nehru Marg, named after her great-grandfather-in-law. Prime minister Manmohan Singh followed, along with Pranab Mukherjee. They walked through the long corridor to the room at the end where Rao’s body, now decked in flowers, was displayed. ‘What do you want to do with the body?’ the prime minister asked Prabhakara. ‘These people say it should be inHyderabad.’ ‘This [Delhi] is his karmabhoomi,’ Prabhakara replied, ‘you should convince your Cabinet colleagues.’ Manmohan nodded. Sonia Gandhi was standing nearby. She said little.

The journalist Sanjaya Baru arrived. His bureaucrat father knew Rao from the 1960s. As Baru entered the corridor, Sonia’s political secretary tapped him on the shoulder. ‘You know the family,’ Ahmed Patel said. ‘The body should be taken to Hyderabad. Can you convince them?’ Baru continued walking towards the end of the corridor, when he heard someone cry. He turned left to see Kalyani Shankar sobbing in a sideroom. Kalyani had been Rao’s most trusted friend for the last two decades.

Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy had by now reached Delhi. ‘It is our government, trust me,’ he told Rao’s family. ‘Let him be moved to Hyderabad. We will build a grand memorial for him there.’ Rao’s daughter S. Vani Devi says, ‘YSR was playing a major role in convincing [the] family to get the dead body to Hyderabad.’

The family wanted a commitment that a memorial would be built for Rao in Delhi. The Congress leaders present said yes. But considering how the party had treated Rao in his retirement, the family wanted to make doubly sure. At 9.30 p.m., they paid a visit to the one man who had stood by Narasimha Rao in the last years of his life. Manmohan Singh was wearing his nightdress, a white kurta-pyjama, when Rao’s family met him at his official residence on Race Course Road. When Shivraj Patil explained the demand for a memorial in Delhi, Manmohan replied, ‘No problem, we will do it.’ Prabhakara recalls, ‘We sensed even then that Sonia-ji did not want Father’s funeral in Delhi. She did not want a memorial [in Delhi] . . . She did not want him [to be seen] as an all-India leader . . . [But] there was pressure.’

‘We agreed.’

The next day, 24 December 2004, leaders from across the political spectrum —from communists to BJP leaders — all came to pay their respects. At 10 a.m., the body was draped in the national flag, put on a flower-decked carriage pulled by an army vehicle, and escorted by military personnel in a slow procession towards the airport. Along the way, they planned to stop at 24 Akbar Road, the Congress party headquarters. Ever since Narasimha Rao had first moved into 9, Motilal Nehru Marg in 1980, he had made this journey countless times.

As the body approached 24 Akbar Road, located adjacent to Sonia Gandhi’s residence, the funeral procession slowed. The entrance gate to the compound looked firmly shut. There were several senior Congressmen present, but hardly any cadres had been rustled up. No slogans filled the air, just deathly silence. The carriage stopped on the pavement outside, as Sonia Gandhi and others came out to pay their respects.

It was customary for the bodies of past Congress presidents to be taken inside the party headquarters so that ordinary workers could pay their respects. The family was somewhat dazed when this did not happen. A friend of Rao’s asked a senior Congresswoman to let the body in. ‘The gate does not open,’ she replied. ‘This was untrue,’ the friend remembers.‘When Madhavrao Scindia died [some years earlier] the gate was opened for him.’ Manmohan Singh now lives in a guarded bungalow a few minutes from Akbar Road. When asked why Rao’s body wasn’t allowed into the Congress headquarters, he replies that he was present, but has no knowledge of this. Another Congressman is more forthcoming. ‘We were expecting the gate to be opened . . . but no order came. Only one person could give that order.’

He adds, ‘She did not give it.’

Source : Swarajya