<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a rare interview, Sonia Gandhi spoke to India Today about her mother-in-law and one of India’s most iconic prime ministers Indira Gandhi. In a conversation that lasted 30 minutes, she reminisced about her first meeting with Indira Gandhi in 1965 and how they ended up speaking in French since Sonia Gandhi couldn’t speak in English properly. She described Indira as ‘gentle and understanding’, and that she gave Rajiv and Sonia, all the space they needed. Sonia Gandhi refused to speak about politics, but shared some interesting titbits about Indira. Here are some of the highlights from her interview: On Indira influencing her to join politics Describing her decision to join politics as tough, Sonia said: “I didn’t want to join politics. I didn’t want my husband to join politics. He was not keen. He was happy being a pilot. But I felt a certain duty to my mother-in-law and my husband, and I saw them work day in and day out to uphold certain values and principles. And when it came to my call, I felt that I was being cowardly not to join.”Asked if Indira pushed her to join politics she said: “I don’t think she pushed anyone to join politics, but she brought up her sons in a manner in which they understood the kind of work and sacrifice she had done to uphold certain values. She didn’t want to be in politics herself. That’s my belief.”What she felt about family members joining politics When asked about the Gandhi family in politics: “Just like in a family of doctors or professors joined politics, one or the other within the family will choose the same path as the father. There’s a difference because in politics you are elected or defeated democratically.”What Indira Gandhi stood for When asked if Indira Gandhi pushed the idea of family first, she said: “It was always about the country. There was nothing in my head but to uphold my mother-in-law’s ideals.” She added that Indira Gandhi’s ideals were shaped by secularism and that she believed all Indians were equal, regardless of their religion. She also refused the notion that Indira played ‘vote bank politics’.Whether Indira regretted the Emergency When asked about Indira Gandhi’s reaction to Emergency, she said: “I cannot say how she would react to the Emergency today. But I can say that if she had not felt extremely uncomfortable with it at some stage, then she wouldn’t have called for elections.” She also mentioned instances when Rajiv Gandhi, in his pre-political days as a pilot, told his mother about the reaction to the Emergency in different parts of the country, stories that he had heard from passengers.Whether Congress needed a leader like Indira to counter PM Modi Asked if Congress needed a leader like Indira Gandhi to counter Narendra Modi and BJP, she mentioned that when Indira became the president of the Congress, she was ridiculed and made fun of. She added: “Rahul and Priyanka can take on their opponents. So much is expected of us because of our surname, we sort of gather inner strength to make it possible to face such things.”On whether Congress would come back from 44 seats She said: “It’s absolutely possible we will come up from 44 seats. Absolutely come back to power. You come up, you go down, it’s part of life.”Whether PM Modi is like Indira GandhiAsked whether she was troubled by the fact that Modi was being compared with the late Prime Minister as a strong personality, Gandhi said, “It does not trouble me because I do not believe in it. I have my own clear views about it. There is no comparison. Absolutely not.”Whether Priyanka was like Indira She added that all of them (Priyanka, Rahul and herself) had been influenced by Indira Gandhi in different ways. She said: “Everyone one of us have been influenced by Mrs Gandhi in different ways, I’ve been influenced in my own way. It’s no model, that I am like Indira. We all have been influenced.”Whether Rahul would take forward her legacy She said: “I am not the one to decide that or reply.”On Indira Gandhi’s deathSpeaking about Indira Gandhi’s death, Sonia said that her mother-in-law was aware about a threat to her life. She said: “I was in my room and I heard some noises. Diwali was a few days ago and at first I thought it was firecrackers. I sent a lady to check what the noise was about. She came back howling. And then I saw her body riddled with bullets.””My mother-in-law knew, she had given instructions what to do in her death. We took her to the hospital. It was a terrible ordeal, there was no ambulance, she was placed in an ambassador and I was sitting with her in my arms. There was a lot of traffic.” She added that Indira’s death was a terrible blow to the entire family.On Indira’s greatest contribution She said: “Her greatest contribution is her loyalty to the people of India. Because from that everything flows. There was something about her, her deep compassion with people. That very few talk about. She had a connect with the average person. She had a deep compassion and empathy for the underdog.Whether being a woman surrounded by men bothered IndiraShe said: “I don’t think so. She did say that she never felt she was a woman amongst all these colleagues. She always felt equal.”On the 1971 – Bangladesh Liberation War Speaking about Indira Gandhi’s bravest moment – the 1971 War, she said: “Indira felt strongly for the people of East Bengal. Terrible atrocities were committed. We heard horrific stories and we felt pain. She would tell us about what’s happening there. She never saw herself as Ma Durga. She was a woman who was completely devoted to the people of her country. She had a sense of sacrifice.”Other aspects of Indira Gandhi She was a great writer. She was interested in everything and everybody. She was interested in classical music, heritage, classical art, folk art, folk music and environment.


From Modi-Indira comparison to the Emergency: Highlights of Sonia Gandhi’s interview