President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday while delivering the Indira Gandhi Centenary lecture on the occasion of her 100th birth anniversary, said Indira Gandhi played a major role in shaping India and its destiny during a critical period in history.
He recalled Indira Gandhi’s return to power in the 80s saying, “The lesson that we must draw from the life and legacy of Indiraji are that every defeat can be turned into a stepping stone for success. Even the impossible can become possible.”
He reminded Congress leaders that Indira returned to power not on her family’s name but on her own. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi were also present among the audience. “What is important is not victory or defeat but the effort that we make to achieve our goals in the service of our nation. We must be relentless in our striving for the welfare of our people,” the President said.
He said that following her defeat in the election the atmosphere was hostile for her but she accepted responsibility. “The Janata Party as well as a section of Congressmen conducted a relentless slander campaign against her. The media was also completely against her. Anti-Indira rallies were held across the country with demonstrators shouting ‘Hang her!’,” President said.
He said Indira championed the cause of poor and underprivileged and was committed to creating a poverty free India. President said the former Prime Minister didn’t shy away from the consequences of her actions during the Blue Star operation. He praised the courage and conviction of Indira Gandhi in supporting the liberation movement of Bangladesh.
Pranab Mukherjee called for a national debate on what comprises the basic structure of the Constitution, the one Parliament cannot amend.