Indira Gandhi, the third Prime Minister and the only woman prime minister of India to date was considered by many to be the strongest Prime Minister India has ever seen to date. Walter Alfred, a 103-year-old former PTI journalist from Mumbai is one of them. He still remembers the time he spent as a political and war correspondent in India during Gandhi's tenure as prime minister.
“Mrs Gandhi was a very powerful leader. My first interaction with her happened way back in the early 70s. I admired her vision during the 1971 war. She dealt with the war very intelligently. It is because of her strong vision, decisions and military planning that India won the war,” recalls the journalist, who stays in his artistically decorated house in Mira Road.
Walter Alfred with Jawaharlal Nehru | File
Alfred recalls his travels with Indira Gandhi to Australia and New Zealand. “I traveled to Australia and New Zealand with Mrs. Gandhi. I remained a trustworthy man in her circle of press informants. Together, I went with Mrs. Gandhi to a small island in Australia where she often asked me to review and check her briefs. That was the place where only limited people were allowed, she dropped her doctor and took me along instead. She used to show me her speeches,” recalls the former correspondent, who during his long-spanning career as a foreign and special correspondent, covered many crucial events in India, Pakistan, and Vietnam including the Quit India movement, India's independence, the first Congress elections, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and Indira Gandhi's assassination.
Indira Gandhi was elected as the PM for the first time in 1966 after Lal Bahadur Shastri died in Tashkent in the same year. The second longest-serving prime minister (1966-1977) after India's first prime minister and her father Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguard in 1984.