NEW DELHI: Harping on the party legacy, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday hailed the role of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ahead of the Vijay Diwas and said that the late former prime minister remains an inspiration to crores of Indians for her boldness and resilience.
Sonia Gandhi also hailed Indira Gandhi as India’s first female head of government who sensitised the entire world community to the struggle of the people of Bangladesh. She made the remarks at the closing ceremony of celebrations of 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War at Jawahar Bhavan here today.
Addressing the gathering, the Congress leader said, “Today we recall Indira Gandhi with great pride. She remains an inspiration to crores of Indians for her boldness and resilience.”
Praising her mother-in-law, Sonia Gandhi said that she (Indira Gandhi) continues to evoke admiration for her fierce determination to make India self-reliant, especially in agriculture, nuclear energy and space technology, for her commitment to the cause of ecological protection, and for her sensitivity to the concerns of far-flung areas of our country and for its disadvantaged sections.
“It will not be an exaggeration to say that 1971 was, in many ways, Indira Gandhi’s finest year – starting with the massive mandate she received in March,” she said, adding, “When the crisis erupted with the brutal crackdown in Dhaka and other places, she immediately understood its implications and swung into action.”
She said that Indira reached out to all political parties and public figures and wrote to Presidents and Prime Ministers of the world. “She dispatched emissaries abroad. She ensured that the USSR was with India. She travelled tirelessly to Western capitals. She sensitised the entire world community to the cause of the people of Bangladesh with personal interviews, meetings and appeals,” she said.
Recalling the works of the then Prime Minister, the Congress leader said, “How can we ever forget the manner in which she stood up with the greatest fortitude to the crass insensitivity and crude bullying of the then President of the United States and some of his advisers and made India proud. Those were tension-filled days, weeks and months. But she remained supremely composed and confident drawing upon her immense reserve of inner strength. She was also incidentally Home Minister right through this turbulent period. Her cabinet had a distinguished galaxy of stalwarts like Jagjivan Ram, Defence Minister; Sardar Swaran Singh, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Y B Chavan and so many others”.
In a veiled attack of the prime minister, she said: “But I think, Indira Gandhi would have wanted us to do so, not in a boastful spirit or in a spirit of self-glorification, but in a spirit of reflection and resolve,” adding that let us therefore recall and celebrate that glorious occasion reaffirming our steadfast commitment to the values she cherished, the ideals she espoused and the causes she fought for—and ultimately sacrificed her life for.
She also thanked former members of the Armed forces for sharing their experience and talking about the strategy, which they followed in order to achieve the final victory.
The Congress has planned several programmes across the country to mark 50 years of Bangladesh Liberation War. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi is also scheduled to address a public meeting in Uttarakhand’s Dehradun on Thursday and also meet several members of the armed forces who participated in the 1971 war.
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