New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday remembered his “mentor”, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a “towering personality” in his farewell speech to parliamentarians.
“My career as a parliamentarian was no doubt mentored by Mrs Indira Gandhi. Her steely determination, clarity of thought and decisive actions made her a towering personality. She never hesitated to call a spade a spade.,” Mukherjee said.
The President went on to relate an interesting incident that happened in London after the Congress’ defeat post Emergency.
“I remember after the defeat of Congress in the post-Emergency election, we had gone to London in November 1978. A large number of mediapersons in a fairly aggressive mood were waiting to ask Mrs Gandhi questions.
“The first question flung at her was: ‘What have been your gains from the Emergency?’ Looking at the journalist squarely in the eye, in a level voice, Indira Gandhi replied: ‘In those 21 months, we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of Indian people.”
The answer resulted in a big silence, followed by loud laughter, Mukherjee said.
“Not one question was asked after that and the media persons just melted away. And I also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging my mistakes and rectifying them. Self-correction in such situations is always a better option than self-justification,” he said.