New Delhi: According to a new book “Leaders, Politicians, Citizens”, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi admired Rahul Gandhi’s “grit and drive” and thought of him as old enough to confide in on issues she avoided discussing even with his parents (Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi) when he was only 14.
Rasheed Kidwai in his book compiles stories of 50 personalities who influenced India’s political landscape. In his book he also recounts the harrowing hours after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the close bonds between the Gandhis and the Bachchans.
He wrote that in October 1984, soon after assassination of Indira Gandhi, Arun Nehru, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, came at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi to find Sonia Gandhi frantic and afraid for her children Rahul and Priyanka’s life.
In Indira Gandhi’s chapter, Rasheed Kidwai details that moments before Indira Gandhi was shot down by her own security guard. He also wrote about how she had death on her mind just days before her assassination.
On October 31 1984’s morning, Indira Gandhi had kissed her grandchildren Priyanka and Rahul goodbye before they left for school. Priyanka Gandhi, who was 12 then, recalled that her grandmother held her longer than usual. She had then turned to Rahul.
“Death was very much on Indira Gandhi’s mind. Turning to Rahul, she had asked him to ‘take charge’ and not cry in the event of her death,” writes Kidwai.
This was not the first time she had spoken about death to her grandchildren. Few days earlier to the incident she had told him about funeral arrangements. She had said that she lived her life, according to book.
He had written many books including “The House of Scindias: A Saga of Power, Politics and Intrigue”, “Ballot – Ten Episodes That Have Shaped India’s Democracy” and “24, Akbar Road”.
On her life’s lost morning, as per the book Indira Gandhi was to begin her official engagements with an interview with Peter Ustinov.
“The cameras were in place when Gandhi, in a bright saffron sari, crossed the wicket gate between her home 1 Safdargunj Road and her 1 Akbar Road office. It was 9:12 am.”
“As she crossed the gate, she acknowledged the greetings of a turbaned security guard. When she smiled back, she saw him pointing a gun at her. Constable Narain Singh, who was holding an umbrella over her, screamed for help. But before other guards of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police could reach the spot, the assassins – Beant Singh and Satwant Singh – had pumped 36 bullets into her,” says the book.
After operation Blue Star, she was advised to wear a bulletproof vest and remove her Sikh security guards, but she refused to do so.
She thought that the idea of wearing a heavy bulletproof jacket at home was unnecessary one, and hated the idea of ‘discriminating’ among her security guards.
As per the book, few weeks prior, she had proudly pointed at Beant Singh and said: “When I have Sikhs like him around me, then I do not have to fear anything.”
Teji Bachchan’s chapter he wrote, about the relationship of the Gandhis and the Bachchans. He noted that their tale of friendship dates back to Anand Bhavan, Allahabad.
Amitabh Bachchan was barely four when he was introduced to Rajiv Gandhi, who was then two. At Bachchans’ Bank Road residence in Allahabad, a fancy dress party was organised. At the party Rajiv Gandhi had shown up dressed as a freedom fighter, writes Mr Kidwai. When Amitabh Bachchan met with a near-fatal accident in 1982, one of the first people to support him and the Bachchans was Indira Gandhi. She had traveled all the way to Mumbai, just after returning from her official visit to the US.
However, disillusioned by the Bofors uproar, Amitabh Bachchan, an MP from Allahabad at the time, left Parliament. Bachchan fought for his honour and prevailed in a lengthy legal struggle, but he was unable to break his ties with politics.
Despite all, Sonia Gandhi always retained her affection for Teji, who acted as her godmother and schooled her in Indian customs when she first arrived in Delhi as Rajiv Gandhi’s fiancée in 1968, Kidwai wrote.
The book named “Leaders, Politicians, Citizens”, has been published by Hachette India.
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