New Delhi: Late Indira Gandhi wanted her younger daughter-in-law to help her in politics after the death of Sanjay but Maneka was in the company of people who were antagonistic to Rajiv. “Although PM was always more fond of Sonia, during the period after Sanjay’s death, she became a little more inclined towards Maneka. “However, it failed to bring Maneka closer to her. Generally Sonia held the upper hand in household affairs while Maneka’s views were considered by the PM when it came to political matters since Maneka had good political sense,” says K P Mathur, Gandhi’s personal physician.
Mathur, a former physician at Safdarjung Hospital here who served for nearly 20 years as the physician to the late PM and called on her every morning till her assassination in 1984, details Gandhi’s journey as a politician and her relations with family in a new book ‘The Unseen Indira Gandhi,’ (Konark Publishers). Within a couple of years of the death of Sanjay Gandhi, the book says, Maneka had to leave the then PM’s house under rather trying circumstances. “After Sanjay’s death, PM’s attitude towards her softened a great deal. In fact, she wanted Maneka to come and help her in politics. “But Maneka was often in the company of people who were antagonistic to Rajiv.
This grew into the formation of the organisation, the Sanjay Vichar Manch. It was an organisation which wanted to carry on with the legacy of Sanjay Gandhi. Maneka and her associates were part of it they were known to be acting against Rajiv although I never came to know what specifically they were doing,” says Mathur. What brought matters to a head was a convention of the Sanjay Vichar Manch which was held in Lucknow, which Gandhi advised Maneka not to address. Gandhi was touring abroad at that time and sent a message to Maneka but the latter went ahead and addressed the convention.
After Rajiv and Sonia’s marriage the doctor said the former PM and Sonia took to each other within no time. “Sonia gave a lot of respect and the latter showered her with affection and regard… Sonia very soon took over the responsibility of the household.” A voracious reader, Gandhi during Sundays and other holidays relaxed with some books, especially biographies of great men. She, says Dr Mathur, liked subjects connected with the body and the mind as well as popular science magazines and was fond of solving crossword puzzles in international publications. “Sometimes, after lunch, she played cards. Her favourite card game was Kali Mam…” says the book.PTI
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