Sanjay Gandhi’s 42nd death anniversary: Son Varun Gandhi pays tribute

Sanjay died from head wounds from an air crash on June 23, 1980, near Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi. The Congress leader, a novice pilot, was flying a new aircraft of the Delhi Flying Club.

Sanjay Gandhi
This image of Sanjay Gandhi was tweeted by his son Varun Gandhi.

Today, June 23, marks the 42nd death anniversary of Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi. His unexpected demise had a huge impact on Indian politics.

It led his mother Indira Gandhi to induct Rajiv Gandhi into politics, who later became India’s Prime Minister, after her assassination.

Sanjay’s wife Maneka Gandhi and son Varun Gandhi are now MPs from the BJP.

On Twitter, Varun paid tributes to his late father.

“Today, I pay tribute to my father Late Shri Sanjay Gandhi on his 42nd death anniversary. A man generations ahead of his time, who worked towards a strong and self-reliant India, with both the vision to see what lay ahead and also the courage to act on it…,” he wrote with pictures.

Sanjay Gandhi’s death

Sanjay died from head wounds from an air crash on June 23, 1980, near Safdarjung Airport, New Delhi. The Congress leader, a novice pilot, was flying a new aircraft of the Delhi Flying Club. He lost control and crashed while performing aerobatic stunts over his office building.

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The aircraft, an advanced Pitts S-2A, was flying low during the crash. Sanjay died instantly from the crash. It took eight surgeons a total of four hours to stitch up his mutilated body. The only other passenger in the plane, Captain Subhash Saxena, Sanjay’s instructor, also died in the crash.

Early life

Sanjay was born to Indira and Feroze Gandhi on December 14, 1946, in New Delhi. He received his initial education from St. Columba’s School, Delhi, Welham Boys School, Dehradun, Doon School, Dehradun and Ecole D’Humanite – a boarding school in Switzerland.

He took up automotive engineering as a career. Sanjay was interested in aircraft acrobatics and obtained a pilot’s license in 1976.

Role during Emergency

Some have claimed that Sanjay rose to become Indira’s adviser, just before the Emergency. His influence on Indira increased drastically during the period of the Emergency.

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Also, there are claims that he ran India during the Emergency (1975-1977), along with his friend Bansi Lal. He recruited many young people into the party, who then intimidated the party’s rivals.

He declared his own five-point programme during the Emergency:

  • Literacy
  • Family planning
  • Abolition of dowry
  • Tree planting
  • Eradication of casteism

He was also behind the compulsory sterilisation programme to limit population growth.

In 971, Maruti Motors (now Maruti Suzuki) was launched with Sanjay as its Managing Director. Later, his name cropped up in the Maruti scandal.

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