18 January, 2021

Steel Touched By Porcelain

Her doom: her politics of manipulation

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Steel Touched By Porcelain

In 1984, I was a young current affairs producer working for the BBC in London. Mrs Gandhi’s assassination came as a brutal reminder that politics in India, despite the survival of its parliamentary democracy, could still be unexpectedly violent. I can’t honestly say that I felt much grief for the death of a ruthless politician who had shown little kindness to her opponents. In a very real sense, she seemed to have created her own tragic nemesis for narrow party political ends. Had she not encouraged and financed Jarnail  Singh Bhindranwale? But there was nevertheless something very shocking and awful about a 67-year-old woman being machine-gunned by two of her own trusted security guards.

It was only nine years since I had written my biography of Indira Gandhi, published in Britain on the eve of the Emergency, but banned in India for its criticisms of her growing authoritarianism. Like most Indians, my feelings about her had changed radically over the two decades during which she dominated our...



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