The next century belongs to Priyanka
Indira Gandhi spoke of her granddaughter Priyanka as her virtual
political heir shortly before her death, predicting that "she will shine
and the next century will be hers." This has been revealed in the book
'The Chinar Leaves' by veteran Congress leader M. L. Fotedar, to whom
Indira Gandhi during her visit to Srinagar in October 1984 had shared
her premonition that she may not live long and clearly mentioned her
preference to have Priyanka groomed to assume reins of the party.
Fotedar quoted the former Prime Minister as saying to him, "People will
see me in her."
The book, brought out by HarperCollins and is yet to be released,
comes at a time when there are frequent calls within the Congress to
bring Priyanka into active politics.
Fotedar, a senior member of the Congress Working Committee, also
recalls in his account of Congress history that while former Prime
Minister Rajiv Gandhi had reacted happily when told of Indira's desires
about Priyanka, Sonia Gandhi has not taken kindly to what the messenger
had to say. He adds that while Rajiv Gandhi had responded with happiness
when he brought Indira's desires about Priyanka to his notice, Sonia had
responded in quite the opposite manner.
The book also claims that Sonia was miffed at Fotedar when he told
her about Indira's will and left the room in a huff as she was taken
aback with her mother-in-law's views. This, the author says, happened
when he went to meet Sonia who had sought his counsel on fielding son
Rahul into politics with a ticket in Amethi. Fotedar's
about-to-be-released book documents facts about a will Indira Gandhi
dictated to him two days before she died.
"I may not live long. But you must watch over her - Priyanka - as she
grows," Fotedar quotes Indira as telling her a few days before her
death, where she shared with him how clearly she foresaw the glorious
future of Priyanka. She also told her: "You will live to see her grow
and shine on the national horizon. People will see me in her and
remember me when they see her. She will shine and the next century will
be hers. Then people will forget me."The book also mentions that Sonia
had sought Fotedar's advice when she decided to vacate her Amethi seat
Fotedar says that when he handed over Indira's will dictated to him
just two days before her death, "Soniaji's face became very grim. She
asked me very curtly whether this was what Indiraji had desired."
After he replied in the affirmative and told her that every word
written on that paper had been dictated by Indiraji and explained the
circumstances in which this conversation happened.
"I also told her that I had brought this to the notice of Rajivji who
was very happy to read it. Rajivji had asked me, Mummy ne aisa kaha hai?
and then instructed me to preserve this document. Soniaji seemed upset
and left the room in a huff. She had not taken kindly to the messenger,"
Fotedar said, adding that Rajiv Gandhi had taken special care to groom
Priyanka for the role his mother had envisaged for her.
"I am a great believer in destiny and my experiences over the years
have only confirmed my belief that circumstances beyond human
imagination and ingenuity play a major role in shaping the destiny of
nations and the people running them, "he says in the book.
Fotedar also writes how Indira wanted to die walking and not like her
father who had suffered a lot towards the end.
"Indiraji said, 'I don't want to die like Pappu.' She then gestured
with both arms held out parallel before her to indicate a path, and
said: 'I would like to die while walking! I would like to die walking!'"