New Delhi, Jul 27: Congress President Sonia Gandhi gave an interesting facet of former Indian Prime Minister and her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi by revealing that she was a Bengali at heart. Sonia made the remarks in Dhaka on Jul 26 where she received the Bangladesh Freedom Honour - conferred on Indira Gandhi for her contribution to the 1971 liberation war.
Speaking of Indira's Bengali connection, Sonia said, "If I may say so, Santiniketan made her something of a Bengali at heart, a lover of the Bengali language, of good conversation, of the creativity, colour and liveliness of Bengal's composite culture."
It can be mentioned that Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India when the war for Bangladesh's liberation broke out. It was largely due to India's intervention, ordered by Indira that Bangladesh managed to get itself freed from Pakistan. It was this action of her that formed an impression in the public mind about her courageous personality.
Referring to Indira's courage, Sonia said, "Courage and sensitivity do not always go hand in hand, yet Indira Gandhi embodied them both…. Much of this came from her time in Santiniketan, where her soul blossomed. Sitting at the feet of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, she imbibed something of his worldview, the mingling of eastern and western values."
And added, "Indira was sensitive to the plight of the poor and the imperative of combating poverty; sensitive to nature, to the environment, to wildlife; sensitive to the arts, to music, to dance, to literature, and to the quest for new knowledge; sensitive to enriching the human spirit beyond material goods and avarice; sensitive to nurturing wholeness in the human person."
Explaining what the liberation of Bangladesh meant to Indira, Sonia said, "The emergence of Bangladesh, therefore meant something much deeper to her (Indira) than its geographical implications. She saw in it a renewal of the spirit of the Bengal she knew and loved. She would have rejoiced that you have kept that flame alive."
After her return to the country, Sonia sent the award to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust and wants it to be displayed in the museum's exhibition area.