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