Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary falls on 31 October every year. The late Congress leader was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October, 1984, in retaliation to her Operation Blue Star.
The only female prime minister of the country, Gandhi was known for the reforms she introduced such as the nationalisation of banks and abolition of privy purses of the royal families. A formidable leader, she presided over several significant events such as the 1971 India-Pakistan War, and Operation Blue Star.
On her death anniversary, here are some facts about the Iron Lady of India:
- Gandhi was born on 19 November, 1917, in Prayagraj to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and his wife Kamala Nehru.
- Gandhi, who was the only child of Nehru, was closely related to the freedom struggle. In her childhood, she had created a group of children known as the ‘monkey brigade’, who used to distribute Indian flags and spy on the police.
- Educated in Visva-Bharati University, Swiss schools and at Somerville College, Oxford, Gandhi was a key assistant of Nehru during his time as Prime Minister and used to accompany him on many foreign trips.
- In the year 1959 Gandhi was elected as the President of the Indian National Congress and became a member of the Rajya Sabha in 1964.
- She was elected as the first female Prime Minister of India after the sudden demise of then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1966.
- She had served in Shastri cabinet as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting from the time of her father’s death in 1964 to the year 1966.
- She was the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of the country, serving from January 1966 to March 1977, as well as January 1980 to October 1984.
- After India’s victory in the 1971 war against Pakistan and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh, Gandhi was awarded the Bharat Ratna.
- She nationalised 14 banks during her tenure and worked towards poverty reduction and conservation of the environment.
- She imposed Emergency in the year 1975, when she was convicted of an election offence by the Allahabad High Court and barred from politics for a period of six years.
- In 1975, after she was barred from politics for six years due to being convicted of an election offence, she imposed Emergency in the country.
- After the fall of the Janata government, Gandhi was re-elected in 1980.
- In the year 1984, she was criticised for ordering the storming of the Harmandir Sahib under Operation Blue Star, to counter the Punjab insurgency.
- She was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October. The bodyguards fired 31 bullets at Gandhi, out of which seven remained inside her body while 23 passed through her body. One bullet missed Gandhi.
- Gandhi remained popular even after her death, with BBC poll declaring her the “Woman of the Millennium” in 1999.