Thu, Dec 8, 2016 | updated 01:39 AM IST

Indira Gandhi okayed Operation Blue Star keeping India's best interest in mind: President Mukherjee

Updated: Nov 19, 2016 19:08 IST

New Delhi [India], Nov.19 (ANI): Backing former prime minister Indira Gandhi's decision to go ahead with the Operation Blue Star , President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said the decision was taken keeping in mind the best interests of the nation, especially the need to maintain the unity and integrity of India.

"Indira ji was clear that she and the Government had no other option. She was fully aware that her own life was at risk. However, she took a decision to go ahead keeping in mind the best interests of the nation, especially the need to maintain the unity and integrity of our country," the President said.

He further described Indira as his foremost mentor in politics and Government, adding that she played a major role in shaping the country's role and destiny during a critical period in history and was a key architect of the modern India.

"She was unflinching in her concern for the poor and the disadvantaged and she championed their cause with rare intensity. She was a crusader for global peace, a just economic order and disarmament. I had the privilege of working closely with her for many years and have no hesitation in describing her as my foremost mentor in politics and Government," President Mukherjee said.

Highlighting Indira's leadership qualities, fighting spirit and tenacity, he further said, "Courage, fearlessness in action and boldness in decision making was the unique hallmark of her character. She remained throughout her life, as her father had wanted, a person of the light: brave, unafraid, serene and unruffled."

The President said that Indira's leadership quality came at the forefront when senior party leaders including K. Kamaraj, S.K. Patil, Atulya Ghosh, S. Nijalingappa and Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, known as the leaders of the Syndicate broke out from the party.

"The Syndicate leaders were conservative in their economic views. Indiraji however argued that unless pro-people programmes were undertaken and implemented vigorously, the gulf between the Congress Party and the common masses would not be bridged. There were also differences between her and Deputy Prime Minister Morarji Desai on bank nationalisation and other economic policies," he said.

"Indiraji took the finance portfolio into her hands and went ahead with the announcement of the nationalization of 14 banks on July 19, 1969. Other measures to abolish privy purses and prevent the concentration of economic power in hands of a few were also subsequently announced," he added.

President Mukherjee said that post the emergency period where she faced hostilities from every section of the societ,y Indira, however, remained cheerful and her indomitable spirit inspired and helped the morale of all around her.

"Indira Gandhi, India's first woman Prime Minister, was voted out by an unforgiving populace after the Emergency. But the people of India brought her back to power in 1980, within a short span of three years. Once the people of India saw Indiraji's commitment to the poor and the disadvantaged, they were filled with admiration and love for her," he said.

Concluding his speech, President Mukerjee said that Indira Gandhi will always remain in the heart of the people of India and continue to be the ideal with whom all future prime ministers will be compared. (ANI)