London: Margaret Thatcher was one of the strongest women leaders the world has ever seen, but what many do not know is that one of her sources of strength was an eccentric and controversial Indian mystic.
Sri Chandraswamy, a self professed preacher and faith healer, sat in Thatcher’s office during a secret meeting soon after she became leader of the Tory Opposition in 1975.
In a second meeting, impressed by his powers, she agreed to wear a red dress and a talisman on her wrist. It was here that the guru predicted that she would come to power within four years and remain there for more than a decade.
All these secrets were revealed by former Indian foreign minister Shri Natwar Singh, who was present when they took place.
He was India’s Deputy High Commissioner to the UK in 1975 when the mystic arrived in London and apparently demanded a meeting with Thatcher.
At the office, he gave Thatcher five slips of paper on which she was asked to write five questions, after which he went into a trance.
When he emerged, he asked Thatcher to open the paper balls one by one, and correctly told her the question written on each.
“Irritation gave way to subdued curiosity. By the fourth question, I thought, she began to consider Chandraswamy a holy man indeed. Chandraswamy was like a triumphant guru and took off his slippers and sat on the sofa in the lotus position,” the Daily Mail quoted Singh as saying.
“I was appalled but Mrs Thatcher seemed to approve. She asked more questions and, in each case, Chandraswamy’s response overwhelmed her,” he added.
He later asked her to come and meet him at Singh’s house.
The former diplomat said, “She asked many questions that day, but the most important ones were related to the chances of her becoming the prime minister.”
Chandraswamy predicted that she would be PM for either nine, 11 or 13 years and added that she would be elected in three or four years.
Thatcher was duly elected four years later, and served for 11 years.
However, after she became Prime Minister, she seemed to want to avoid the guru.
At the Commonwealth Summit in Zambia, in 1979, Singh suggested to her, “Our man was proved right.”
“For a moment, she seemed flustered. Then, she took me aside and said: `High Commissioner, we don’t talk about these matters`,” he said.