Gandhi, Indira

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gandhi, Indira

Indira Gandhi (Ĭndē´rə gän´dē), 1917–84, Indian political leader; daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru. She served as an aide to her father, who was prime minister (1947–64), and as minister of information in the government of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri (1964–66). On Shastri's death in 1966, she succeeded as prime minister. Her first administration, marked by her increasing personal control of the Indian National Congress party, led to a party split. Her faction, New Congress, won overwhelming electoral victories in 1971 and 1972. She triumphed in foreign affairs with India's 1971 defeat of Pakistan, which resulted in the establishment of the state of Bangladesh. Found guilty in June, 1975, of illegal practices during the 1971 campaign, she refused to resign, declaring a state of emergency. Her administration arrested opponents and imposed press censorship. In November the Supreme Court overruled her conviction. In 1977 her faction in the Congress party lost the parliamentary elections; she lost both her seat and her position as prime minister. In 1980, she again became prime minister, this time as leader of the Congress (Indira) party, and held the office until assassinated by her security guards in 1984. Her son Rajiv Gandhi succeeded her as prime minister.

See biographies by K. Bhatia (1974) and D. Moraes (1980); T. Ali, Nehru and the Gandhis, (1985); I. Gandhi, Letters to an American Friend, 1950–1984 (1985).

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