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Mana Review : Into the complex world of PV's mind

Mana Review : Into the complex world of PV
Highlights

The book is a 'must read' to know the innermost side of the Government at the highest level. The book provides an insight and inner glimpse into the...

The book is a 'must read' to know the innermost side of the Government at the highest level. The book provides an insight and inner glimpse into the complex and contentious working of PV's sensitive and enlightened mind and dwells on how he kept his loyalties above personal gains

P Vaman Rao

mana2PVRK Prasad, who held several high posts in Andhra Pradesh and was Media Adviser to PV Narasimha Rao, came into PV's confidence when he was first drafted as Private Secretary to CM. In those days, there were no senior IAS officers as Secretary to CM to head an impressive team of officials. PVRK emerges as a key figure from this autobiographical narrative of his official assignments - some diplomatic in nature - as PM's personal convoy.

The author's solemn assurance in the introductory page - "Nothing in this book is hearsay. In every incident, I have either some role to play or I was a direct witness to it" - lends greater credence to its content, especially PVRK's role in the entire political enfoldment particularly as PV's "Man Friday" or Lanny Budd Upton Sinclair's series.

One section of the book spanning 100-plus pages pertains to PVRK's early official career as Sub-Collector, Bhongir, in communist-affected Nalgonda where he clashed with a Minister over people's rights on land and came out unscathed. He was project officer SFDA, Nalgonda, whence he joined CM's office! I had the privilege to see his functioning while I was Director of Information and Jt. Secretary GAD. He could always be banked upon to remove chestnuts out of fire, though not a fire- fighter.

Although PV relied on his advice coming as it did from an intelligent officer endowed with analytical skill having full faith in him, PV had his own counsel and acted on his own finally. PV only tested the waters and knowing its depth, cast his net. His aim of course was the welfare of the common man and the down-trodden which propelled him to undertake radical extensive land reforms which cost his job due to resistance by powerful vested interests erupting in the shape of Jai Andhra agitation, ironically for a separate Andhra state.

The stand taken by PVRK in regard to elaborate arguments during Sanjay Gandhi's visit as Khammam Collector, his overnight allotment of huge land to ITC for setting up a paper mill at Bhadrachalam, his confrontation with NTR on his allegation of being pro-Brahmin as EO, TTD and his burst of anger on opposition leader K Rosaiah, former CM and now Governor of Tamil Nadu, his clash with Rajesh Pilot, then Central Minister for Surface Transport in regard to expansion of Vizag port showed how PVRK acted boldly cutting across red tape and technicalities. Although his actions might have been in the larger public interest, it earned him the wrath of higher officialdom. Though all this confrontation with authorities caused him mental agony and questioned his integrity, he had the strength of spirit and faith in God to tide over the crisis and emerge clean.

Then began the testing time in his chequered career at the centre of power at the nation's capital - being PV's principal aide in sensitive matters; rapprochement between PM's Principal Secretary and Cabinet Secretary; withdrawal of resignation by Dr Manmohan Singh; Ram Janma Bhoomi affair; dealing with the rising ambitions of the controversial 'god man' Chandraswami.

The sudden resignation of Dr Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister concomittant to sharp barbs from some members of the ruling party was delicately handled by PVRK at PV's insistence which led to his withdrawal of resignation, preventing halt of economic reforms.

The story of conspiracies by some powerful opponents of PV within the Congress and also in the cabinet, the successful attempts to create a chasm between PM and Sonia Gandhi, the demolition of Babri Masjid despite PV's bid to save it within the constitutional frame work, the idea that heads of religions maths should form into a body and initiate the move to build Rama Temple with no say by Vishwa Hindu Parishad or BJP and the like - all these have been vividly brought out by PVRK. PVRK's book is a 'must' to know the innermost side of the Government at the highest level.

The book gives an insight and inner glimpse into the complex and contentious working of PV's sensitive and enlightened mind and how he kept loyalties above his personal gains. A A shrewd judge an incisive intellectual, PV did not cultivate the press the way others holding power did.

He knew that one who is on the ascent in politics is greeted with rose garlands and one sliding down will be pelted with stones. He was convinced that press would write what it decides to write and not what is expected of them. Therefore, he never tried to interfere with the Fourth Estate.

An unbiased observer would agree with PVRK's conclusion � PV, the rare intellectual and statesman who safeguarded the future of India and his party, did not get his due recognition from the countrymen or even his own party.

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