BIOGRAPHIES OF GREAT LEADERS

INDIRA GANDHI

Indira Gandhi in full Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi, (1917-1984). She was born in Allahabad. She was the Indian politician who was the first female prime minister of India, serving for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term from 1980 until she was assassinated in 1984. Indira Gandhi was the only child of Jawaharlal Nehru.

She was a top leader of the powerful and long-dominant Indian National Congress (Congress Party), and was the first prime minister (1947–64) of independent India .On Shastri’s sudden death in January 1966, Gandhi was named leader of the Congress Party and thus also became prime minister in a compromise between the party’s right and left wings. Her leadership, however, came under continual challenge from the right wing of the party, led by former minister of finance Morarji Desai. She won a seat in the 1967 elections to the Lok Sabha, but the Congress Party managed to win only a slim majority of seats, and Gandhi had to accept Desai as deputy prime minister.

During the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was faced with threats to the political integrity of India. Several states sought a larger measure of independence from the central government, and Sikh separatists in Punjab state used violence to assert their demands for an autonomous state. Tensions between the government and the Sikhs escalated, and in June 1984 Gandhi ordered the Indian army to attack and oust the separatists from the complex. Some buildings in the shrine were badly damaged in the fighting, and at least 450 Sikhs were killed (Sikh estimates of the death toll were considerably higher). On 31 October 1984, two of Gandhi’s Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, shot her with their service weapons in the garden of the prime minister’s residence at 1 Safdarjung Road, New Delhi, allegedly in revenge for Operation Blue Star. The shooting occurred as she was walking past a wicket gate guarded by the two men. She was succeeded as prime minister by her son Rajiv, who served until 1989.