Mukherjee remembers Indira Gandhi’s fight against communal violence

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday paid glowing tributes to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her relentless fight against ” the cowardice of perpetrators of communal violence” even as he recalled her “courage and boldness” in decision making.

“She remained throughout her life, as her father had wanted, a person of the light: brave, unafraid, serene and unruffled. Indiraji despised the cowardice of perpetrators of communal violence and fought against it relentlessly,” Mukherjee said delivering the Indira Gandhi Centennial Lecture here.

“During her life, she rose above all divisions of religion, caste, community and creed. As a result, she was loved universally by all sections of people and across the length and breadth of our country,” he added.

“Indiraji’s biggest strength was her connect with the common people, especially the grass-roots Congress worker,” recalled Mukherjee, who was associated with the former Prime Minister and the Congress president for a long time.

In this context, he said, “People found in her the promise of undaunted struggle and iron will. Demonstrating her fighting spirit, Indiraji adopted an attitude of challenge and confrontation.”

The President said, “For Indira Gandhi it was immaterial whether the Congress party won or lost an election, what was important was continued and uninterrupted service to the people.”

Referring to historical milestones in Indira’s life, like the creation of Bangladesh as an independent country, Mukherjee said, “Indiraji combined bold and quick decision making with careful planning, adequate preparations and single-minded focus to liberate Bangladesh. She scripted thereby a unique chapter in the world and India’s history.”

“She took tremendous risk given the fact that Pakistan was being supported by the United States and China. In an act of sabre rattling, the US sent its seventh fleet into the Bay of Bengal. Indiraji neither buckled under pressure from the US nor fell victim to the posturing of China. She showed that she was a leader with nerves of steel, fully equipped to lead India through any challenge,” the President added.

On the controversial ‘Operation Bluestar’ against Sikh extremists in Punjab, Mukherjee recalled how when the decision to undertake ‘Operation Bluestar’ was taken, she was cautioned that it would bring her the hatred of extremist elements and the anger of a large section of the Sikh community.

“I remember vividly her sombre but determined words, ‘I know of the consequences’. Indiraji was clear that she and the government had no other option,” Mukherjee said.