• Short Summary

    Sanjay Gandhi the son of India's Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi died in a light plane crash in New Delhi on Monday (23 June).

  • Description

    LV & CU Officials look at aircraft wreckage strewn over large area, in New Delhi, India. (2 SHOTS)

    GV & SV Mrs Indira Gandhi standing next to lorry carrying body of her son. (2 SHOTS)

    LV Mrs Gandhi riding on lorry with the body. (3 SHOTS)

    CU Grief stricken mourners. (2 SHOTS)

    SV & CU Closed shops.

    SV & CU Sanjay Gandhi addressing rally during Mrs Gandhi's election campaign in May, 1980 in the Punjab. Driving off in car. (LIBRARY FILM) (6 SHOTS)

    CU Sanjay Gandhi emerging from office with his mother. (LIBRARY FILM) (4 SHOTS)

    Initials JS/


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Sanjay Gandhi the son of India's Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi died in a light plane crash in New Delhi on Monday (23 June). His death has stunned the country and threatened a major shake-up in Indian political life. Thirty-three-year-old Sanjay Gandhi, who was regarded by most as his mother's heir, was killed outright while practising aerobatics.

    SYNOPSIS: The plane crashed into a storm culvert just behind Sanjay Gandhi's suburban office and a mile from the home he shared with Mrs Gandhi. Sanjay Gandhi went flying every morning before starting his political work and friends described him as a fearless and daredevil pilot.

    Mrs Gandhi reached the scene as the bodies of her son and another pilot were loaded on to a van to be taken to hospital.

    Eyewitnesses said the plane was doing aerobatics including loops when it went into a dive. Sanjay managed to swerve away from a house before crashing. Police have not ruled out sabotage.

    As the news of the crash swept through the capital crowds of mourners swarmed to the hospital where his body was being held. Shops throughout New Delhi closed immediately.

    Sanjay Gandhi had become one of the most influential figures in India when still in his twenties. He was widely credited in having masterminded his mother's return to power in a sweeping general election triumph last January in which he won himself a seat in Parliament. Last month he was made Secretary General of the Congress Party after organising a landslide victory in eight of the nine state assembly elections. Sanjay Gandhi had attracted controversy since first emerging as a political force after his mother declared emergency rule when she was Prime Minister in 1975.

    His resented mass-sterilisation programme and the wide-scale forced destruction of Delhi slums were among the reasons for Mrs Gandhi's defeat in the 1977 general elections.

    In opposition, many of Mrs Gandhi's close associates deserted her, blaming Sanjay for the election disaster. Mrs Gandhi grew closer to her son in opposition. Together they fought off court cases for alleged emergency offense and Government attempts to stall her political comeback. Sanjay Gandhi dressed simply, made speeches that were short and to the point and drew huge crowds. He helped build his mother's new Congress Party. His death is expected to have enormous repercussions on Indian politics.

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