Tributes to our former PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi Ji on her birth anniversary.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 19, 2022
‘India is Indira and Indira is India’
Gandhi’s first eleven years as prime minister saw her transform from a puppet of Congress party leaders to a strong leader with the iron resolve to split the party over her policy positions or to go to war with Pakistan to assist Bangladesh in its liberation war in 1971. She was such a dominant figure in Indian politics at the end of 1977 that Congress party president D K Barooah coined the phrase “India is Indira and Indira is India.” Morarji Desai was appointed as deputy prime minister and finance minister in Gandhi’s government.
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Indira Gandhi: Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter and key assistant
Gandhi was the daughter of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She was the second longest-serving Indian prime minister after her father, serving from January 1966 to March 1977 and again from January 1980 until her assassination in October 1984. From 1947 to 1964, Gandhi was considered Nehru’s key assistant and accompanied him on numerous foreign trips. In 1959, she was elected president of the Indian National Congress. After her father died in 1964, she was appointed to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and joined Lal Bahadur Shastri’s cabinet as Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
— ANI (@ANI) November 19, 2022
In the Congress Party’s parliamentary leadership election held in early 1966 (following Shastri’s death), she defeated her rival Morarji Desai to become leader, and thus succeeded Shastri as Prime Minister of India after his death. Indira Nehru was given the name Indira Gandhi. Her father, Jawaharlal Nehru, was a key figure in the movement for Indian independence from British rule, serving as the first Prime Minister of the Dominion (and later Republic) of India. She was the only child (her younger brother died when he was young) and grew up at the Anand Bhavan, a large family estate in Allahabad, with her mother, Kamala Nehru.
A lonely childhood
Her childhood was lonely and unhappy. Her father was frequently absent, either directing political activities or incarcerated, while her mother was at home. Mother was frequently bedridden with illness and died of tuberculosis at a young age. She only communicated with her father through letters.
A follower of Mahatma Gandhi
During Mahatma Gandhi’s fast in 1924, young Indira was with him. Indira, dressed in khadi, is shown following Gandhi’s advocacy for all Indians to wear khadi instead of British-made textiles.
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Indira Gandhi’s political journey
Garibi Hatao (Remove Poverty) was Gandhi’s resonant theme for his 1971 political campaign. The Garibi Hatao slogan and accompanying anti-poverty programmes were intended to give Gandhi independent national support based on the rural and urban poor. This would enable her to avoid the dominant rural castes in state and local governments, as well as the urban commercial class. The previously voiceless poor, for their part, would finally gain political worth and political weight. Garibi Hatao programmes, while carried out locally, were funded and developed by the Central Government in New Delhi. In response to the combined opposition alliance’s use of the two-word manifesto—”Indira Hatao”—the slogan was created (Remove Indira).
(With agencies inputs)