Indira regretted Operation Bluestar decision, say aides

She had given the nod for Operation Blue Star but late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi later regretted the decision which eventually led to her assassination 25 years ago.

Updated: Oct 30, 2009, 11:55 AM IST

New Delhi: She had given the nod for Operation Blue Star but late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi later regretted the decision which eventually led to her assassination 25 years ago.

The country`s only woman prime minister, who died on
October 31, 1984, equally regretted her another controversial
decision -- imposition of Emergency -- that had shaken the
country, say her close aides.

"Gandhi regretted both the decisions on Operation Blue
Star and Emergency. The shape that the two incidents took
later was not exactly the same for what Gandhi had taken these
decisions," said R K Dhawan, her personal secretary and close

Dhawan said that the first six months of Emergency
went "very good" but after then things went out of control and
then she "off course regretted" the step.

"In 1973-74, the Opposition parties had created so
much of ruckus...they had created all sorts of problems for
Gandhi. Then it was thought of that some corrective measure
had to be taken," he said.

According to Dhawan, the decision to impose Emergency
was taken way back in January 1975 much before it was actually
imposed on June 25, 1975 but it was delayed as it was not
decided by then what should be the exact mode of action. The
decision was later taken after consultation with legal
experts, he said.

Gandhi fell victim to her own Sikh bodyguards --
Satwant Singh, Beant Singh and Kehar Singh -- who pumped 31
bullets into the 66-year-old charismatic leader.

While Beant was killed by security men, Kehar and
Satwant were later hanged.

M L Fotedar, another close aide of Gandhi, termed
Emergency as a measure taken in compulsion saying, "Her
opponents created such a situation in the country that she had
to impose Emergency".

Regarding Operation Blue Star, Dhawan said she was
told that no damage would be done to the structure of Golden
Temple and there will be no loss of human lives before she had
given the nod for the operation.

"She (Gandhi) was told that it (Operation Blue Star)
will be a simple operation. No damage will be done to the
structure and there would be no loss of human lives. She was
also told that terrorists would be flushed out of the temple
in no time," he said.

Dhawan admitted that the decision to conduct Operation
Bluestar was undoubtedly unfortunate, which was regretted by
Gandhi also.

"Though Gandhi was not informed that tanks would be
used during the operation, it is true that once the army
operation started, it was difficult to stop it," Dhawan said.

According to Fotedar, "Operation Blue Star was her
compulsion. There was no alternative left to stop terrorist
and other disruptive activities".

On the criticism faced by Gandhi after the operation
and the anger of the Sikh community, he said, "Gandhi did not
want to hurt any community or religion. This was the only
option left to her to protect the country from outside

Senior journalist Kuldeep Nayyar feels the entire
exercise was a big mistake. "The answer to terrorist
activities cannot be given like this," he said.

Gandhi`s close aides also remember her for her
simplicity and her commitment to the cause of the poor, which
led to the Congress slogan of "Garibi Hatao" during the 1971
Lok Sabha elections.

"Simplicity was the name of Indiraji...the way she
dressed, her food habits everything was so simple," recalls

"No political leader worked the way Indiraji did for
the masses," he said.

Dhawan appreciated Gandhi for her habit of taking firm
decisions saying, "She took her decisions herself and used to
stick to it. Though she faced innumerable problems in her
personal life, she always thought of the masses."

Nayyar, however, has a different view. "Politics came
into everything after Gandhi`s reign. While taking the wrong
decision of Emergency, she also put a ban on the press and
insulted Parliament," he claimed.

Dhawan, contended that there is no leader worth her
stature in the country today.

Fotedar also echoes similar views and refers to her
rise in the party from a member of Congress Working Committee
in 1955 to party president in 1959 as an example of her

"She used to take quick decisions after deliberations
with her others," he said.

Bureau Report