President Pranab Mukerjee said Indira Gandhi was still the “most acceptable ruler” of the country and appreciated her decisiveness and fearlessness at the launch of the book “India’s Indira – A Centennial Tribute” during her birth centenary year.
“To the people of India, she is the most acceptable ruler of a democratic country, even today,” He said.
Indira Gandhi’s short period in political wilderness revealed her true strength, President Mukherjee added.
“She remained undaunted in the face of attacks and criticism. She never lost courage. If the Congress party came back into power within a short period of three years, it was because of Gandhi’s hard work and determined action,” He said.
The book launch event was attended by Vice President Hamid Ansari, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and other prominent dignitaries.
President hailed Indira Gandhi’s courage during Congress defeat in 1977, he said when I met her after the poll results, the first thing she told me was ‘Pranab, don’t get unnerved by the defeat. This is the time to act. And she acted.”
Mukherjee further said the late Prime Minister “waged a relentless war against communal and sectarian violence, throughout her life” while successfully rising above “divisive identities of caste, community, religion and creed and established a direct connect with people”.
“It was this unhindered rapport that made her acceptable from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Mizoram to Dwarka. She had only one identity – that of an Indian,” He asserted.
President Mukherjee said that Indira Gandhi’s life was infused with a tremendous passion for India and its people, and hailed her contributions towards the progress and development of India.
Mukherjee praised Indira Gandhi by referring to several bold decisions taken by her like the Operation Blue Star the 1984 military operation to remove Sikh militants from the Golden Temple in Punjab.
“Sometimes history demands some action which may not prove correct later on, but perhaps is most relevant at that time,” he added.
“Fearlessness in action and boldness in decision making was the unique hallmark of her character,” said Mukherjee who was presented the first copy of the book edited by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma.
“It was in Indiraji’s time that India became the third largest reservoir of skilled scientific and technical manpower, the fifth military power, the sixth member of the nuclear club, the seventh in the race for space and the tenth industrial power,” he asserted.
Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister from 1966 to 1977 and then from 1980 to 1984 when she was assassinated.