It was the year 1966 and the day was January 19. Huge masses had gathered outside the Parliament House and were waiting tensely to know as to who would become their new Prime Minister. The tussle for Premiership was between the aged Morarji Desai and the young and charming Indira Gandhi. The time was round about 3:30 P. M, when a men came charging out of the Parliament Hall. He was shouting ‘Lal Gulab Vapis Aa Gaya,’ ‘Lal Gulab Zindabad’ and meaning a Return of Red Rose. People applauded at what the man had said. They had under stood that Indira Gandhi had been chosen as the new Prime Minister of the biggest democratic nation of the largest continent. She had won by a margin of 166 votes. 355 votes had been cast for her while 189 votes had been cast for the aged Morarji.
Birth an education
Indira Gandhi is the daughter of our late Prime Minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and grand-daughter of an eminent advocate of Allahabad, Shri Motilal Nehru. Indira was born on November 18, 1918. Right from beginning her Dadu, Moti lal Nehru, was telling her father to send his daughter to a good English boarding school. But her father did not like this idea. He wanted his daughter to be brought up as all Indians were. Mrs. Vakil was kept to look after and teach Indira. Mrs. Vakil also looked after her, while her parents were in jail.
As both Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Kamala Nehru took active part in freedom struggle, less attention was paid to little Indu. She was mainly under the care of Mrs. Vakil. In the vast Anand Bhawan, Indira had no playmates. The only playmates she had were dolls. Indira’s Vanar sena-She went at the age of 12 to join the Congress. She was rejected and toled that she would not be enrolled before she was 18. She replied boldly. “Thank you: I will see you after six years”, and went away.
Sometime later, she formed Children’s Congress. She control led all boys and girls who were under the age of eighteen. She named her group as Vanar Sena.’ There little boys and girls did spying. They used to play outside the police stations and make friend with guards. Members of the Vanar Sena tried to find out from the guards as to who would be caught that day and where will the police take action. They spread there news to the people con cerned. Indira Gandhi was the leader of this. Thousands of boys and girls had joined her Sena.
Indira at Poona and Shantiniketan
To distract her mind from all this, her father sent her to People’s One School run by Master K. J. Vakil at Poona. Indira was older for her class. Thus, she thought her duty to help. She took very active part on co curricular activities. She was the leader and organizer of most of the functions held at school. She took keen interest in games too. After consulting with Rabindranath Tagore, her father put her in Shantiniketan. All the students there thought that Indira would bring two or three servants, and some sarees too. But they were in for a shock. They saw her approaching the college barefoot, wearing Kurta and Pajama of Khaddar and holding her luggage in her hands. During her short stay of one year at Shantiniketan she washed her own clothes, cooked and did what all other girls had to do. She was not given any extra privilege. From Rabindranath she got love for poetry and art. She learned Manipuri dance there, under the auspicious eyes of Guru Rabindranath himself.
Indira had to leave Shantiniketan because she got a letter from her father saying that her mother was sick and she should go and attend to her. Indira learned history through the numerous letters which she got from her Papa. He used to write about history when he was in prison. From her father, she learned the love for nature and passion for books.
Indira along with her mother went to Switzerland for the letter’s treatment. In the meantime, her father joined them too. Jawaharlal took Kamala to the Sanatorium at Mon-tone while he sent Indu to the International School in Geneva which was run by League of Nations.
After sometime she got a letter that her mother was well on the path of recovery. He father and she traveled London, Paris and Berlin. There Pandit Nehru met eminent people but did fail to introduce them to his daughter. Indira Gandhi met Romain Rolland, Ernest, Toller, Einstein, Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplain and many more eminent persons.
Nehruji came back to India, but this time sent her daughter to study at Ecole Nouvelle of the New School in Bex. As the news. about and deteriorating health of her mother reached her, she left her studies and went to look after her. There she invited her intimate friend of Allahabad from London. His name was Feroze Gandhi. Soon her father also joined them. On 16th February, 1936, doctors had told that Kamala was out of danger but soon she died on the 28th February, 1936.
After this Indira went for studies to London. She came back to India in 1939 and become a member of Congress. Feroze Gandhi and Indira Nehru got married in 1941. First Jawahar Lal was holding a private marriage. People heard about it and abused about the Inter caste marriage going to be held. Then Mahatma Gandhi told Nehruji that her marriage should be enjoyed by every one and not enjoyed quietly. He further said that this marriage would lead to Inter-caste marriage then.
The couple went for honeymoon to Gulmarg. After the honey moon, Feroze became the Manager of Daily newspaper-National Herald’ of Lucknow. Feroze took part in the Quit India Movement’ held on August 8, 1942. Soon there was a warrant for his capture and he went underground. In the meantime, her father also went to the prison. Indira was also called to preside over the function held at Ewing Christian College to hoist the tricolor. The police came to know about this. Before Indira could hoist the flag, the police came in. They started biting students. A constable approached Indira and asked her to stop making the speech. Indira kept on speaking at gun point too. The policeman threatened Indira. Soon a ferocious figure came charging who knocked down the constable. It was none other than Feroze. Feroze arrested by the police.
Until quite sometime, Feroze and Indira lived without Pandit Jawaharlal. Feroze separated from Nehru’s house. He did not want people to think that he was helped by Jawahar Lal in ties. He wanted to show that he was an independent person. He knew Indira was too much attached to her father and so he let her stay there. Feroze Gandhi fought a case against the Finance Mini ster on the charges of corruption Feroze got mild heart attack. He accompanied his wife and two sons to Kashmir. In September 1960, he got a major heart attack and collapsed.
Indira as the Congress President
In 1955, she was elected as a member of Congress Working Committee. At the age of 42, she was elected as the Congress President. She was the Fourth woman to be come Congress President. The other three were Annie Besant (1917), Sarojini Naidu (1925, and Nellie Sen Gupta (1933). She was the third in Nehru family. Motilal Nehru (1933) and Pandit Jawaherlal Nehru (1928) had been the President of Congress.
In Central Cabinet
In May 1964, her father passed away. Mr. Shastri was chosen the Prime Minister and Indira was in his Cabinet as Minister of Information and Broadcasting. She was placed fourth in the Cabinet. She was interested in films and sought many ways to educate people through films. She was up to date in her work and showed promptness too..
Indira was the first Indian Minister who was invited by Russia. In January 1965, Film Festival was held in Delhi. She handled this wonderfully. She had a great knowledge about films. A press reporter of foreign country interviewed her and remarked that he had met many Ministers of various countries, but had not met a remarkable Minister like Indira Gandhi who even discussed the merits of Rosseline and Imogor Bergmann. She educated poor masses on radio, and brought first hand information about the Indo Park War.
Indira as the Prime Minister
In 1966, the sudden death of Shastriji turned her own fate. In the moment of shock, she never imagined that the passing away of Shastriji had any relevance to her own destiny, and that within a few days, she would take her place as the Prime Minister of India. After having been closen as the Prime Minister, she said, “We are a democracy, we have to persuade people rather than to compel them. We have to bring about a change in the outlook of people through education and persuasion.”
During her time, as the first lady Prime Minister of India, she had to face many problems. First of all she faced the Naga Problem. She handled it personally and led to expulsion of Rev. Michael Scott from Nagaland. She successfully tackled the Bihar Problem. Du ring her first Premiership, she visited America, France, England and Moscow and everywhere she was accorded warm welcome as the illustrious daughter of the illustrious father. In 1957, she was re elected as Prime Minister. In the year 1969, she took bold step of
Bank Nationalisation and became a real leader of the masses. Then came the famous Bangla War in which she proved her mental, both as a bold administrator and a great diplomat. It was only due to her efforts that Pakistan was divided and Bangladesh was formed. In the mid-term elections in 1971, Congress under her gallant leadership swept of the poll and she again became the Prime Minister. She gave new dimensions to the Indian economy and the economy was flourshing under her gallens leadership, Suddenly, a dark cloud came in her life. With the declaration of her election invalid by the Allahabad High Court, all her opponents demanded her resignation. Taking the full advantage of the corruption prevailing in the country, the opposition leaders launched several movements. There was the demand of the dissolution of Gujarat Assembly and ultimately Assembly was dissolved. Seeing her in trouble, all sorts of elegations were alleged on her. Worst law and order situation, the corruption prevailing at the highest level and lack of faith in the administrative machinery of the government were some of the tedious problems which she had to face. Mr. Jayaprakash Narayan who had already retired from the active politics, launched a movement against the corruption and rising prices which ultimately resulted into the famous Bihar Movement. Mrs. Gandhi, in order to tackle all these problems and save her position, bad to declare Internal Emergency in 1975. During emergency, there was considerable progress in the economic field. But with the arrest of almost all the opposition leaders and restrictions on the freedom of press and fundamental rights, she was condemned by the Western press.
Dark days of masses
Mrs. Gandhi while declaring the Emergency and her 20 point programme, said that Emergency has been imposed for the economic progress of the country and solving the law and order problem and removing the corruption from all walks of life. This could not be doubted that certain good steps were taken in this direction, and gave a new direction to the country. But high handedness of certain officials in the family planning programme and restrictions made on the public, made her unpopular in the northern belt of the country. She was called a dictator by the opposition and Western press. In 1977, when she declared general elections, she tried to give a slap on the mouth of those calling her dictator. But in this general election, her party was routed from the northern belt of the country. South India again welcomed her as the undisputed leader of the masses. Due to her defeat in general election, Janta Party came into power in the 6th general elections. In most of the northern states also, Janta Party was successful in the mid-term polls. Then came series of commissions against her, appointed by the government for the so-called atrocities in Emergency. Shah Commission was one of the most important commission. All sorts of allegations were charged against her and she had to face many trials. She was arrested twice but was released very soon. Even during these dark days of her life, she did not loose courage and her immense faith in the general masses and her policies. Many of her stalwarts left her but she was un-daunted and kept her touch with the general masses of the country. When ever there were atrocities on the Harijans, she was there. She asked her party men to work hard in flood relief work and face the problem of famine and lawlessness and rising prices courageously.
Victorious in 7th General Elections
Since the Janta Party came into power, the internal squabbles in the party grew day-by day. With the split in the Janta Party and the formation of the Lok Dal. Mr Charan Singh became the Prime Minister. He did not face the Lok Sabha even for a single day and had to suggest the President to have mid-term poll, which he readily accepted. In 7th General Elections, he again showed her strength and stamina. She visited from one part of the country to the other part of the country revealing weakness of Janta Party and Lok Dal and claimed that her party only could form a suitable government at the Centre and remove the poverty, lawlessness and other problems, facing the country. She visited even the smallest village of the country and asked the people to give her one more chance to serve them. Indian masses who were perturbed due to internal fighting in the Janta Party, growing lawlessness, rising prices, deteriorating economic condition and falling prestige of the country in the foreign countries, again put their faith in Mrs. Gandhi’s leadership. The general masses again found her the lady of great courage and strength and bestowed laurels on her. She was able to get 351 out of 25 seats for which elections were held and once again she became the Prime Minister of the country and lead to destiny of the nation.
Our beloved Prime Minister, Mrs. Gandhi has great love and affection for the countrymen and the countrymen have also reciprocated it. But her task is great. She has herself said that situation is not that which was at the time of her first Premier ship. She has to face all sorts of problems. Indian economy is shattered. Problems of lawlessness and rising prices are great. Indian prestige in the world is at the lowest ebb. She has demanded cooperation of all walks of people to solve all these problems and once again put the country on the path of progress and advancement. We are sure that with her great wisdom, shrewd diplomacy, emmence faith in the masses, undaunted courage and wisdom, she would be successful to tackle the many sided problems with the cooperation of the people. Indian people has always reciprocated the love and affection and we are sure that once again for making this country great, our masses would come forward and help her to implement her policies in the right direction. May God, bless her long life and wisdom courage, and bless the Indian people to work hard to make this country great.