New Delhi: Indira Gandhi's trusted aide and Congress veteran ML Fotedar has claimed that the former prime minister had a premonition about her death just days before she was assassinated and wanted her granddaughter Priyanka to carry forward her political legacy.
Fotedar, a long time political advisor to Indira, claimed that she saw her reflection in Priyanka and was convinced that she could be a great leader in future.
Indira Gandhi had told me that the next century would belong to Priyanka and felt that she would make a great leader, Fotedar was quoted as saying by 'The Times Of India' in a report published on Tuesday.
On a Saturday, just three days before Indiraji was assassinated, we were in Kashmir. After visiting a temple there, we sat and relaxed before we headed back to Delhi. That is when she began talking to me about Priyanka, Fotedar was quoted as saying.
''I was taken aback by the manner in which she opened up. Maybe she had a premonition that her end was imminent and she felt the need to talk about her desire to see Priyanka become a leader. I felt her words were really important. That night, I wrote down every word she said that day about Priyanka'', Fotedar further said.
Fotedar described Indira as ''a good judge of character'' who saw herself in Priyanka.
He, however, regretted that Indira's suggestion on Priyanka did not go down well with Sonia Gandhi.
''After Indiraji's death, I told Rajiv [Gandhi] about Indira's views on Priyanka. I have also told Soniaji about Indiraji's desire to see Priyanka as a leader. I do see a lot of similarity between Indiraji and Priyanka. I feel Priyanka has the same aggression that Indiraji had as a leader. The Priyanka we are seeing today is nothing. Just wait and watch. As Indiraji said, the next century belongs to Priyanka,'' Fotedar was quoted as saying.
Revealing the dramatic circumstances of Indira's last days, Fotedar said she had visited Kashmir in late October 1984, drawn by its scenic beauty and an ardent desire to visit a Hindu and a Muslim shrine that the late leader reposed particular faith in.
"She saw a sign - a shrivelled tree - at the Hindu shrine that made her feel that her life was coming to an end. On the way back to the rest house in a car, she said as much. Then, in a thoughtful mood, she said Priyanka might be cut out for politics... that she might be successful and be in power for a long time," Fotedar claimed.
The former prime minister was assassinated in Delhi on October 31, 1984.
The old time Gandhi loyalist's recollections are due to be made public soon in the form of a book 'Chinar Leaves' that will be released on October 30 in the Capital.
Fotedar's due to be released book also seems to support former minister Natwar Singh's claim that family pressure rather than an "inner voice" was the reason for Sonia declining the prime minister's post in 2004.