Feroze biography brings up Indira’s role in ousting EMS govt.

November 20, 2016 01:12 am | Updated 01:12 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Feroze Gandhi  — PHOTO: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Feroze Gandhi — PHOTO: Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

A new book has claimed that as Congress president, Indira Gandhi used “communal Hindus” in Kerala to overthrow E.M.S. Namboodiripad’s communist government in 1959. In Feroze, the forgotten Gandhi , Swedish author Bertil Falk has reported that Indira Gandhi felt that her father and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was “indecisive” on communism, even as her parliamentarian husband, Feroze Gandhi, opposed her deal with “caste monsters” of the State.

“She orchestrated the unrest from New Delhi through her loyal AICC workers in the State. And she did it hand in hand with the communal Hindus in the state and with the Muslim League,” Mr. Falk wrote in a chapter titled ‘Upheaval in Kerala.’

The communist government, formed in 1957 under Namboodiripad’s leadership, began large-scale economic and political reforms in the State, but New Delhi did not appreciate the changes like schools replacing the portraits of Mahatma Gandhi with those of Lenin and Marx. While Jawaharlal Nehru did not object to these changes as he felt these was part of the democratic process, Indira Gandhi did not share his opinion. “He has given a very good lead from the beginning, but he is incapable of dictatorship or rough-shodding over the views of his senior colleagues. ...you would be surprised that some of the ministers whom we had considered most anti-Communist are now supporting the Communist government of Kerala,” the book reported, quoting from Indira Gandhi’s letter to her friend Dorothy Norman.

The toughest opposition to Indira Gandhi’s plans to overthrow the communist government came from her family. Her husband Feroze Gandhi clashed with her on the breakfast table at Teen Murti Bhavan. ‘“It is just not right,” Feroze had said, “you are bullying people. You are a fascist.” Indira Gandhi flared up. “You are calling me a fascist. I can’t take that’,” Mr. Falk wrote, recounting that the breakfast ended as a seething Indira Gandhi walked out.

Troubled marriage

Feroze Gandhi went public against Indira Gandhi’s strategy on Kerala. “Where are the principles of the Congress? Are we going to be dictated by a caste monster we have produced,” he asked as Indira won the political battle and New Delhi imposed Central rule on Kerala, overthrowing the first elected communist government in the world.

The troubled marriage of Indira and Feroze was almost over by the time the differences over Kerala arose. On September 7, 1960, Feroze died alone in Delhi, Mr. Falk writes.

Feroze, the Forgotten Gandhi , published by Roli Books, is based on four decades of field work and research during which Mr. Falk interviewed many colleagues of Indira and Feroze Gandhi. He believes that Feroze Gandhi, despite being the son-in-law of the Prime Minister and a Congress parliamentarian, was the “unofficial leader of the Opposition” as he opposed the Nehru government and criticised it for political high-handedness and financial malpractices.

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