Revealing the dramatic circumstances of Indira’s last days, Fotedar an old time Gandhi loyalist said she had visited Kashmir in late October 1984, drawn by a fondness of the change of season scenery and a desire to visit a Hindu and a Muslim shrine that the late leader reposed particular faith in. She was assassinated in Delhi on October 31, 1984.
The old time Gandhi loyalist’s recollections are due to be made public soon in the form of a book ‘Chinar Leaves’ that will be released on October 30 in the Capital. Fotedar seems to support former minister Natwar Singh’s claim that family pressure rather than an “inner voice” was the reason for Sonia declining the prime minister’s post in 2004.
“She saw a sign at the Hindu shrine that made her feel that her life was coming to an end. On the way back to the rest house in a car, she said as much. Then, in a thoughtful mood, she said Priyanka might be cut out for politics… that she might be successful and be in power for a long time,” revealed Fotedar
The “sign” Indira saw and which she interpreted to mean impending death was a shriveled tree at the Hindu shrine. Fotedar said he too read a similar portent. “I think she realized that I had noticed it too and reached similar conclusions. She revealed her mind on the way to the rest house,” Fotedar said.
Much later, Fotedar wrote a detailed letter to Sonia putting down Indira’s thoughts on Priyanka after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 during campaigning for the Lok Sabha election. Apparently, the contents of the letter were not well received. “I did write to Sonia describing whatever transpired on that visit to Kashmir,” Fotedar said.