India fondly remembered its third Prime Minister and one of the tallest world leaders of her times – Indira Gandhi – on the occasion of her 98th birthday. The late leader, who was assassinated by her own bodyguards at her residence in New Delhi on October 31, 1984, served as the Prime Minister thrice, holding the highest executive office for nearly 16 years. Besides, Indira Gandhi also held the position of President of Congress party in 1959 and again from 1978 until her tragic death in October 1984.
India’s first ever and so far only women Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was known for her resolve and tough decision-making, though her tenure is also infamous for the imposition of internal emergency from June 1975 to February 1977.
During her early years as the PM, India went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), which resulted in a historic victory for Indian army with nearly one lakh Pakistan army soldiers surrendering before India. As a result, India’s influence increased to the point where it became the regional power of South Asia.
Her tenure is also known for path breaking social and economic reforms with the nationalisation of banks, coal-fields, steel, copper, refining, cotton textiles and even insurance industries. She also abolished privy purses of the erstwhile princely states, the move which is still considered historic.
Early on Thursday morning, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari and top leaders of the Congress party paid rich tributes to the former Prime Minister at her memorial ‘Shakti Sthal’ on the banks of river Yamuna in New Delhi.
Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, party Vice President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among the Congress leaders who paid floral tributes besides. Several other senior leaders like Ashok Gehlot, Motilal Vora and even the former chief of Youth Congress MS Bitta too paid tributes to the departed leader on her 98th birthday.
A recorded speech by Indira Gandhi was played on the occasion, following which tri-colour balloons were released by the leaders. Devotional music was played during the programme and an all-religion prayer was also organised.
Meanwhile, no one from the ruling NDA government was present at ‘Shakti Sthal’. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid homage to Indira Gandhi taking to the micro-blogging site Twitter.
“Tributes to Indira ji on her birth anniversary,” PM Modi tweeted on Thursday.
Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917 to Kamala Nehru and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. She was India’s first female Prime Minister serving from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Indira Gandhi is also the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India.