How did Indira Gandhi reach the pinnacle of Indian politics? Did India move away from freedom under her leadership? What kind of woman was she?
Indira Gandhi made unorthodox use of power and possessed a highly individual style of functioning. In this book, Nayantara Sahgal persuasively argues that authoritarianism was the inevitable outcome of Indira’s personality and temperament. Her leadership marked a drastic break with the democratic tradition of her family and Indian politics. During her regime, the political landscape of India underwent profound changes. The Emergency of 1975–77 was used to promote her son Sanjay as her ultimate successor. The entry of her elder son, Rajiv, into politics after Sanjay's death, and his immediate political prominence showcased Indira’s essential belief in her family's right to rule.
Nayantara Sahgal’s personal knowledge of her cousin, in combination with her unparalleled access to letters exchanged within the Nehru family, makes for a striking and insightful analysis of Indira’s tryst with political power and an unusually penetrating psychological and political portrait from an intimate family viewpoint.