Talking about the assassination of Grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that in the political field if someone takes a stand for something, they will die as a result of messing up with wrong forces.
While addressing the audience during a programme in Singapore and stressing that it was a price that the family knew they had to pay for taking a stand. “In politics, when you mess with the wrong forces, and if you stand for something, you will die”, he said.
“We knew that my father was going to die. We knew that my grandmother was going to die,” he said.
“My grandmother told me she was going to die and my father…I told him he was going to die,” Mr Gandhi said on Friday. The Congress put out a video of the hour-long question-and-answer session on its Twitter handle.
Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by security guards with whom he used to play badminton.
Rajiv Gandhi was blown up by a Sri Lankan Tamil woman suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai in 1991. It was an assassination that LTTE ideologue Anton Balasingham, according to a 2016 book, had conceded was the outfit’s “biggest mistake”.
Mr Gandhi, 47, has spoken about his father’s assassination in the past but so far, declined to talk about his father’s assassins. Like when J Jayalalithaa had proposed to release the seven persons serving a life term in 2016, the Congress had strongly objected but Mr Gandhi had underlined this was a decision the government had to take. “I will not give my personal opinion on this,” he had said.
Mr Gandhi opened up to talking about how he and his sister looked at the assassination and the assassins during the interaction with IIM alumni in Singapore.
The session had started with a question on the privileges that Mr Gandhi, who is often derided for his political career as a member of the Congress’ first family the Gandhi-Nehrus, had enjoyed.
Yes, there were a number of privileges “where I sit but I wouldn’t say I haven’t been through a rough ride,” he said, starting to talk about the assassination of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi.
“So you live in a particular environment, surrounded by 15 guys, morning, noon and night. I don’t think that’s a privilege,” he said.
But these tragedies, he said, had conditioned him to see the human face behind the killings and not hate anyone.
Mr Gandhi recalled that when he saw Prabhakaran lying dead on the television in 2009, two thoughts had crossed his mind. “I got two feelings – first was why they are humiliating this man in this way… and second was…I felt really bad… his family and kids. I understood deeply what it meant to be on the other side, he said, going to speak about the phone call he made to his sister.
“He killed papa,” Mr Gandhi told her. “I should be happy that he is dead. Why am I not happy,” he reminisced. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told him she was feeling exactly the same.