20 October, 2020

What If Shastri Hadn't Died Suddenly In Tashkent?

Indira Gandhi might never have become prime minister. There would have been no question of her dominating the national scene for nearly two decades irrespective of whether she was in or out of power.

What If Shastri Hadn't Died Suddenly In Tashkent?
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Of all the "what ifs", this is perhaps the easiest to answer. For, had Shastri not died suddenly but served for another five years or so, Indira Gandhi might never have become prime minister. There would have been no question of her dominating the national scene for nearly two decades irrespective of whether she was in or out of power (for 30 months). Let the stark facts speak for themselves.

On the last day of 1965—two days before leaving for Tashkent—Lal Bahadur Shastri, who had stepped into Jawaharlal Nehru’s oversized shoes only 18 months earlier, neatly eased out T.T. Krishnamachari, finance minister in his cabinet as he had been in Nehru’s. As the news spread, Indira, who regarded ttk a friend and an ally, was not surprised. She was enraged. "I would be the next to be thrown out," she angrily told several people, including me, on that tense night.

I had gone to see her because along with some colleagues, I was leaving early next morning for the Central Asian city where Shastri and President Ayub Khan of Pakistan were to meet, under Soviet auspices, to bring...

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