1971 was Indira Gandhi’s finest year, says Sonia Gandhi
Addressing the closing ceremony of celebrations of Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said that late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who played a pivotal role in the war, would have wanted the party to celebrate “not in a boastful spirit or in a spirit of self-glorification, but in a spirit of reflection and resolve”, an apparent jibe at the Centre.
Gandhi described 1971 as Indira’s “finest year” and urged the party to reaffirm “our steadfast commitment to the values she cherished, and the causes she fought for – and ultimately sacrificed her life for.”
Gandhi lauded the armed forces, the people of Bangladesh and said, “It was this extraordinary convergence of a well-planned and perfectly-executed political, diplomatic and military strategy that gave 1971- a distinctive place in the history of the sub-continent. It was a history that reshaped geography as well.”
In her speech, she described how Indira Gandhi mobilized international support, “remained supremely composed and confident drawing upon her immense reserve of inner strength” and reached out to all party leaders.
In her speech, Sonia also mentioned the then patchy relationship between the US and India and said, “Indira ensured that the USSR was with India. She travelled tirelessly to Western capitals. She sensitized the entire world community to the cause of the people of Bangladesh with personal interviews, meetings and appeals. And 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 did India proud.”
The Congress president also described her late mother-in-law as “an inspiration to crores of Indians for her boldness and for her resilience” and narrated how Indira “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.”