Narasimha Rao’s IB operations !!!

Did a secret Intelligence Bureau report on play a role in  Pranab Mukherjee not becoming Finance Minister in P V Narasimha Rao’ Cabinet in 1991?

A new book ‘Half Lion: How P V Narasimha Rao Transformed India’ by journalist-turned academician Vinay Sitapati indicates so.

Mukherjee, who became President in 2013, was sure that he would enter the North Block, the Finance Ministry’s seat because he sided with Rao in the Congress power struggle following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination.

He told Jairam Ramesh, now a Congress MP, a few hours after Rao was elected Congress Parliamentary Party leader on June 20, 1991, that he would either be with him in Finance Ministry or with Rao in PMO. Ramesh was appointed Officer on Special Duty in Rao’s PMO.

However, the book claims quoting journalist Sanjaya Baru, who became Media Adviser to Manmohan Singh during his Prime Minsitership that Rao had called up IB the same afternoon. In few hours, he was in possession of a “secret file” on Mukherjee.

“There is no evidence of anything incriminating in the file, or if Rao even used it against Pranab. But one thing is certain. By that evening, Pranab was no longer in the running,” the book says. Manmohan Singh was Rao’s chosen man.


This was not the lone occasion Rao had used the agency for political purposes. From collecting information of anti-reforms MPs in Congress to those visiting Sonia Gandhi after she publicly criticised the handling Babri Masjid demolition, he used the IB.

The “clandestine document” of the IB in late 1991 listed Congress MPs who were against reforms measures.

While 55 MPs, including Madhavrao Scindia and Balram Jhakkar, were against trade liberalization, 22, including Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh were against any Congress-BJP understanding on reforms, the book said quoting from the report which were part of Rao’s private papers.

“More than any other single piece of evidence, this report shows how serious – not to mention ruthless – Rao was in pushing through economic reforms,” it said.

He also asked the IB to keep tabs on 10, Janpath after Sonia condemned Babri Masjid demolition, her “first political act”, though she did not blame him. Twelve days after the demolition, the IB reported back to him, saying that Arjun Singh and Digvijay Singh among others “reportedly expressed their unhappiness with the handling of the situation, including by the Prime Minister.”

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Jun 26, 2016)


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ministership: Rao approached IG Patel twice | searching for blue pencil

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