India remembers Indira Gandhi; leaders pay tributes

RSTV Bureau

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India fondly remembered its third Prime Minister and one of the tallest world leaders of her times – Indira Gandhi – on the occasion of her 99th birth anniversary. 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 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.

President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari and Indira’s daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi paid rich tributes at her former residence at Safdarjung Road, which has now houses a memorial ‘Indira Smriti’.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tributes to the former Prime Minister. “Tributes to former Prime Minster Smt Indira Gandhi on her birth anniversary,” he tweeted.

In a function held at AICC headquarters in the early morning, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, party vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh along with top party leaders paid rich floral tributes. Congress traditionally holds Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary function at Shakti Sthal, but the venue was shifted to AICC headquarters in view of closure of the memorial due to bird flu.

Rahul Gandhi remembered the late leader and his grandmother as a warrior and revolutionary. “Remembering Indiraji: a warrior, a revolutionary, a woman of conviction, compassion & sacrifice. My grandmother, my friend, my ever guiding light,” he said in a tweet.

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.

Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917 to Kamala Nehru and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. She was the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India.