Updated: December 16, 2021 3:46:34 am
Noting that 1971 was Indira Gandhi’s ‘finest year’, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday said that the liberation of Bangladesh 50 years ago was a magnificent accomplishment under her leadership but added that the former Prime Minister would have wanted everyone to celebrate the feat but not in a “boastful spirit” or in a “spirit of self-glorification.”
Sonia was speaking at a party event to commemorate the golden jubilee of the liberation war. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi will address a public meeting in Uttarakhand Thursday to kick off the party’s Assembly election campaign and also to mark India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Sonia had last year set up a committee chaired by former Defence minister A K Antony to plan and coordinate the party’s activities to commemorate the liberation war. The celebrations are part of the Congress’s attempts to subtly counter the nationalism plank of the BJP, reminding the country that it was Indira Gandhi who had played a key role in the break-up of Pakistan.
At the event, Antony hit out at the BJP government saying even opposition leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee had hailed Indira after the 1971 war victory. “He (Vajpayee) praised Indira as ‘durga’, many other opposition leaders hailed her as ‘shakti’. While we celebrate the 50th year of Bangladesh liberation…during the course of the last one year ….the present government…..I have not heard a sentence of praise, appreciation to the role played by Indira Gandhi by our Prime Minister. I feel sorry about that.”
Arguing that it was the “extraordinary convergence of a well-planned and perfectly-executed political, diplomatic and military strategy that gave 1971- a distinctive place in the history of the sub-continent,” Sonia said it was a remarkable group of individuals who had made the “truly historic effort possible and so tremendously impactful.”
“It was indeed a gigantic collective enterprise. Listening to them, guiding and being guided by them, leading them in a clear, purposeful and decisive manner was a remarkable woman. Today we recall Indira Gandhi with great pride. She remains an inspiration to crores of Indians for her boldness and resilience,” Sonia said.
She said it will not be an “exaggeration to say that 1971 was, in many ways, Indira Gandhi’s finest year.” “Starting with the massive mandate she received in March. When the crisis erupted with the brutal crackdown in Dhaka and other places, she immediately understood its implications and swung into action. She reached out to all political parties and public figures.”
“She wrote to Presidents and Prime Ministers. She dispatched emissaries abroad. She ensured that the USSR was with India. She travelled tirelessly to Western capitals. She sensitised the world community to the cause of the people of Bangladesh with personal interviews, meetings and appeals. And how can anyone ever forget the manner in which she stood up with the greatest fortitude to the crass insensitivity and crude bullying of President Nixon and some of his advisers and did India proud,” she said.
“Those were tension-filled days, weeks and months. But she remained supremely composed and confident drawing upon her immense reserve of inner strength….Today, we celebrate a magnificent accomplishment. But I think she would have wanted us to do so, not in a boastful spirit or in a spirit of self-glorification, but in a spirit of reflection and resolve,” she added.
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