I do not know how much credit Narsimha Rao should receive for initiating the economic reforms, because they seem to have become unavoidable when he became the Prime Minister. I do not know if he had advocated the reforms earlier when he was Mrs Gandhi's minister or subsequently her son's. I also do not know what he thought of the Emergency. It is difficult to pass a moral judgement on his act of bribing the MPs to save his minority government if one were to pass that judgement standing in his shoes.
But I remember reading reports of his speech, delivered in chaste Marathi, at the annual Marathi literary convention at Karad, and feeling pleased. Rao was the only Marathi-speaking Prime Minister we have had. So that should endear him to Raj Thackeray. He also spoke Sanskrit fluently, which should win him a fan in Dinanath Batra...
My respect for him went up several notches when I found out, after googling for his speech at Karad, that he had translated H N Apte's novel `Pan Lakshat Kon Gheto' (But who really bothers/ understands this'). It is a novel that I could not read when I was in school, because I found the subject very painful. Published in 1890s, it is about a young girl, widowed, who is facing the wretched ordeal which awaited all Brahmin widows those days: to have the head shaved.
Whatever Rao's contribution as the PM may be, the fact that he chose to translate this novel into Telugu is enough for any self-respecting Maharashtrian to feel a warm admiration for him.
I don't think Pratibha Patil has read that novel. Or the brother Thackerays have. Who bothers?