BiographyIndira Gandhi Biography

Indira Gandhi Biography

Indira Gandhi, born on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, India, was a trailblazing Indian politician who made history as the first female prime minister of India. Her remarkable political career spanned several terms, with her first tenure from 1966 to 1977 and a return to power in 1980, leading until her tragic assassination in 1984. Indira Gandhi’s leadership left an indelible mark on Indian politics, and she was known for her strong and often controversial decisions during her time in office. Her legacy continues to be a topic of interest and discussion in the realm of Indian politics, making her a significant figure in the nation’s history. In this article you will get to know about Indira Gandhi’s Early life, her role as India’s Prime Minister, her political roller coaster ride and many more things.

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    Indira Gandhi Biography: Early Life

    Indira Nehru, the only child of India’s iconic leader Jawaharlal Nehru, played a pivotal role in the country’s struggle for independence from British rule. Her lineage was steeped in the fight for freedom, as her grandfather Motilal Nehru was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. Indira’s journey to prominence began with her education, including a brief stint at Visva-Bharati University and later at the University of Oxford in England. In 1938, she joined the Indian National Congress, a party that was at the forefront of India’s quest for independence.

    In 1942, Indira Gandhi married Feroze Gandhi, a fellow Congress Party member, and the couple had two children, Sanjay and Rajiv. Although their marriage was often marked by estrangement, Indira’s role as her father’s hostess and her travels with him kept her deeply involved in the political sphere. The Congress Party came to power with her father’s ascent to the position of prime minister in 1947, and Indira Gandhi’s political career gained momentum. In 1955, she became a member of the party’s working committee, and in 1959, she was elected as the party president, a largely honorary position. Her formal entry into the Indian parliament’s upper chamber, the Rajya Sabha, occurred in 1964. That same year, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Nehru’s successor as prime minister, appointed her as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting in his government. Indira Gandhi’s early life and gradual ascent within the Congress Party marked the beginning of a remarkable political career that would eventually see her become the first female Prime Minister of independent India and an influential global figure.

    Indira Gandhi: A Turbulent Tenure as India’s Prime Minister

    During Indira Gandhi’s first term as Prime Minister, She faced various challenges within her own party. After the sudden death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in January 1966, Gandhi was chosen as the leader of the Congress Party through a compromise between its right and left wings. However, her leadership was constantly challenged by the right wing, led by Morarji Desai, a former finance minister. In the 1967 elections, although Gandhi won a seat in the Lok Sabha, the Congress Party only managed to secure a slim majority, leading her to accept Morarji Desai as deputy prime minister.

    Tensions continued to escalate within the party, leading to Gandhi’s expulsion in 1969 by Desai and other senior members. Undeterred, she formed a new faction known as the “New” Congress Party, which gained significant support among party members. In the 1971 Lok Sabha elections, the New Congress group secured a resounding victory over a coalition of conservative parties.

    During this time, Gandhi strongly supported East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in its struggle for independence from Pakistan. India’s armed forces achieved a swift and decisive victory over Pakistan, leading to the creation of Bangladesh, with Gandhi being the first world leader to recognize the new country.

    In March 1972, riding on the wave of India’s success against Pakistan, Gandhi’s New Congress Party won landslide victories in many state legislative assembly elections. However, her political opponent from the 1971 national election accused her of violating election laws, leading to a ruling by the High Court of Allahabad in June 1975 that would have barred her from politics for six years. Gandhi appealed to the Supreme Court but received an unsatisfactory response. Consequently, she declared a state of emergency across India, imprisoned her political adversaries, and assumed emergency powers. During this period, she implemented several controversial policies, including widespread sterilisation as a means of birth control, alongside other laws that limited personal freedoms.

    Indira Gandhi’s Political Rollercoaster: From Power to Defeat and Back Again

    In the early 1970s, Indira Gandhi faced significant public opposition during her two-year emergency rule. When this period ended in 1977, her political rivals were determined to remove her and the New Congress Party from power. National parliamentary elections held later that year resulted in a resounding defeat for Gandhi and her party, leading her to step down as prime minister. The Janata Party took over, with Morarji Desai as the new prime minister.

    In 1978, Gandhi and her supporters formed the Congress (I) Party, with the “I” signifying Indira. She faced brief imprisonments in 1977 and 1978 on corruption charges. Despite these setbacks, she won a seat in the Lok Sabha in November 1978, and her Congress (I) Party began to gain strength. Internal divisions within the ruling Janata Party eventually led to its downfall in August 1979. New elections in January 1980 saw a landslide victory for Gandhi and Congress (I), as she returned to power. Her son Sanjay, who had become her chief political adviser, also secured a seat in the Lok Sabha, and all legal cases against both Indira and Sanjay were dropped.

    However, tragedy struck in June 1980 with the untimely death of Sanjay in an aeroplane crash, leaving Indira without her chosen successor. She then began grooming her other son, Rajiv Gandhi, for leadership. Indira continued her father’s quasi-socialist policies of industrial development and strengthened ties with the Soviet Union for support in India’s ongoing conflict with Pakistan.

    During the early 1980s, Indira faced challenges to India’s political unity, as several states sought greater autonomy from the central government. In Punjab, Sikh separatists, led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, occupied the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Tensions escalated, leading to Gandhi’s decision in June 1984 to order the Indian army to oust the separatists. This operation resulted in damage to the shrine and the loss of many lives.

    Indira Gandhi Death

    Tragically, in revenge for the Amritsar attack, Indira Gandhi was assassinated in her garden in New Delhi on October 31, 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. This shocking event sent shockwaves across India and the world, as it marked a significant turning point in the country’s history. Indira Gandhi’s death left a void in Indian politics, as she had been a formidable leader and a central figure in shaping the nation’s post-independence trajectory.

    Following her assassination, her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was thrust into the political limelight and took over as the Prime Minister of India. Rajiv’s tenure was marked by both significant achievements and challenges, including economic reforms, improved relations with some neighbouring countries, and also controversies. He served as Prime Minister until 1989, leading the nation through a pivotal period in its history, during which India continued to navigate complex political, economic, and social changes.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Indira Gandhi

    Who was Indira Gandhi?

    Indira Gandhi was a prominent Indian politician who served as the first female Prime Minister of India. She played a significant role in India's struggle for independence and left a lasting impact on the nation's political landscape.

    When and where was Indira Gandhi born?

    Indira Gandhi's birthplace was Allahabad, India, and she was born on November 19, 1917.

    What was Indira Gandhi's family background?

    She was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru, a key figure in India's independence movement and its first Prime Minister. Her family was deeply involved in the fight for India's freedom.

    How did Indira Gandhi enter politics?

    Indira Gandhi's political journey began with her education and her association with the Indian National Congress, the party at the forefront of the independence movement. She joined the Congress Party in 1938 and gradually rose through the ranks.

    What were some of Indira Gandhi's notable achievements as Prime Minister?

    Indira Gandhi led India to victory in the 1971 war with Pakistan, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh. She also implemented various socio-economic policies during her tenure.

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