Former PM Indira Gandhi, a few days before she was assassinated, told Congress leader ML Fotedar, that she saw Priyanka Gandhi as her political heir. When Sonia Gandhi was informed about Indira’s views, she did not take them well .
The old time Gandhi loyalist’s recollections will be made public in a book titled ‘Chinar Leaves’, to be released on October 30, in New Delhi. Fotedar seems to support former minister Natwar Singh’s claim that family pressure was the reason for Sonia declining the PM’s post in 2004.
Indira told me the next century would belong to Priyanka, and felt she would make a great leader, Fotedar was quoted as saying, by TOI.
“She saw a sign – a shrivelled tree – at the Hindu shrine that made her feel that her life was coming to an end. On the way back to the rest house in a car, she said as much. Then, in a thoughtful mood, she said, Priyanka might be cut out for politics… that she might be successful and be in power for a long time,” Fotedar claimed.
“After Indira’s death, I told Rajiv [Gandhi] about her views on Priyanka. I have also told Sonia about Indira’s desire to see Priyanka as a leader. I do see a lot of similarity between Indira and Priyanka. Just wait and watch. As Indira said, the next century belongs to Priyanka,” Fotedar said.
Later, he wrote a letter to Sonia putting down Indira’s thoughts on Priyanka, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991, during campaigning for the Lok Sabha election. It was not well received. Fotedar was given a Rajya Sabha membership.
He recalled having felt that Rajiv’s rift with his cousin Arun Nehru was handled badly and adds that Sonia and Satish Sharma had a role in the saga.
He also said after the VP Singh government fell in 1990, the then President R Venkataraman, was averse to swearing in Rajiv as PM, and preferred Pranab Mukherjee instead. Rajiv was taken aback by Venkataraman’s fury.
Apart from Indira, Fotedar’s book also tells about his roles—making Narasimha Rao the PM after obtaining Sonia Gandhi’s approval, warning Narasimha Rao about the RSS conspiracy to destroy Babri Masjid, and criticising Rao at a Cabinet meeting for his failure to protect the monument.