Do you think I can man­age, Ra­jiv asked af­ter Indira’s death

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - DK Singh let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

NEW DELHI: Shortly af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Indira Gandhi was shot by her body­guards in 1984, her son Ra­jiv wanted to know “how po­tent” the bul­lets were and if his mother de­served the vi­o­lent death.

At the time, Ra­jiv was ad­dress­ing a political rally in West Ben­gal along with se­nior party lead­ers, in­clud­ing Pranab Mukher­jee, the then Union fi­nance min­is­ter who re­ceived a wire­less mes­sage re­layed by the po­lice: “Indira Gandhi as­saulted. Re­turn to Delhi im­me­di­ately.”

He then cut short his speech and all of them rushed to catch a flight back to Delhi. On their way, they learnt on ra­dio that “16 bul­lets had been pumped into Ms Gandhi,” prompt­ing a dis­traught Ra­jiv to ask his per­sonal se­cu­rity of­fi­cer how lethal the bul­lets used by VIP se­cu­rity per­son­nel are. The PSO replied they were very pow­er­ful, re­calls Mukher­jee. “Ra­jiv then turned to us and, with great emo­tion, asked, ‘Did she de­serve all th­ese bul­lets?’ We sim­ply sat there, stunned.”

Th­ese rem­i­nis­cences form part of ‘The Tur­bu­lent Years: 1980-1996’, the se­cond vol­ume of Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee’s mem­oir, where he writes in de­tail on a wide range of con­tro­ver­sial sub­jects, in­clud­ing the Op­er­a­tion Blues­tar, his ex­pul­sion from the Congress and the de­mo­li­tion of Babri Masjid.

CON­TIN­UED ON P10

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