'If Shastri had lived 5 years more, Sonia would still be a housewife'

In the top ten short listed contenders, of a poll initiated by CNN-IBN and History TV18 to choose the greatest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi, are Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime-minister, and Indira Gandhi, his daughter and former prime-minister. Ramachandra Guha, author and historian, feels that Indira Gandhi cannot been seen in the same light as Nehru because she undermined Nehru's legacy.

"Indira Gandhi certainly undermined Nehru's institutional legacy," said Ramachandra Guha to CNN-IBN.

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"Nehru nurtured institution of democracy - an independent election commission, an independent judiciary, bureaucracy autonomous of political interference, pluralism, secularism. Indira systematically undermined all of this," he added.

Highlighting Nehru's visionary role in promoting the multiparty democracy in India, Guha said, "When Nehru promoted multiparty democracy, the RSS, the Communists and the middle class opposed him."

"Multiparty democracy allowed the Mayawatis, the Mulayams and the Mamatas and everyone else to come. We take that for granted," he added.

Guha also criticised Indira Gandhi for promoting dynastic politics, which Nehru opposed.

"Even Nehru's fiercest critic wrote at that time that the Nehru has no interest in promoting dynastic rule. If Lal Bahadur Shastri would have lived 5 years longer Rajiv Gandhi would be still alive and Sonia Gandhi would be a devoted house wife," Guha said.

"Because Indira promoted first Sanjay and then Rajiv, it became license for lesser parties like the DMK, Sawajwadi Party etc to promote dynastic politics," he added.

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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2012 11:51:04 IST

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