A great daughter of a still great father, Mrs. Indira Gandhi took over the reins of the government as Prime Minister of India in 1966 after the death of Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri. She started asserting authority within a short period of time. She emerged as the strongest Prime Minister and President of the Congress Party. This created a great furore in the Party and it was divided. But she soon overcame all the difficulties and firmly established that her party, Congress Indira was the real and powerful party.
Indira Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917 at Anand Bhawan in Allahabad. Her parents called her ‘Priyadarshini’, her grand-parents called her ‘Indira’ and Gandhiji called her ‘Indu’. Since her father Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was often in prison, she received her education at several places. She started her education at Allahabad and then she was sent to Poona. For sometime she was at Oxford and then in Switzerland. Finally she completed her education at Shanti Niketan where she was fortunate to have Rabindranath Tagore as her teacher.
At the age of 12, Indira Gandhi formed ‘ Vanar Sena’ (Monkey Brigade) at Allahabad and enrolled 6,000 members. As a student she took keen interest in student movement and joined the Congress at the age of twenty one. During the 1937 movement, .she worked enthusiastically and made contacts with women in villages. For taking part in the freedom struggle, she was sent to prison along with thousands of others. After partition of the country, she worked with Mahatma Gandhi in the riot affected areas. In 1959 her election to the high post of the Congress President was a tribute to her abilities. In 1964 she became the Minister for Information and Broadcasting in Lal Bahadur Shastri cabinet. During the 1965 war with Pakistan she was the first union minister to visit the front and other trouble spots in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mrs. Indira Gandhi became the first woman Prime Minister of India in 1966 after the death of Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri. The group of politicians who supported her as against Morarji Desai to be Prime Minister, thought that she was a mere doll and they would lead her by the nose. But within short period she asserted her authority and emerged as the toughest lady to deal with. She showed them their place. As a result the party was divided but soon she proved that her party, Congress I was the real and effective party. During her tenure of Prime Ministership, she had to face many storms in the country and in the party but ultimately she emerged victor. She dealt with the problems of food grain scarcity, price- hike, unemployment and population control with ability and wisdom. She nationalised the 14 major banks in the country. She adhered to and continued Nehru’s policies of socialism, secularism and non-alignment. She took bold steps to end terrorism in the Punjab. Imposing Emergency on the country proved her ruin and she was defeated in the elections of 1977. She bore this blow with boldness and again became the Prime Minister in 1980. On October31, 1984, she was shot dead by her own security guards.
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