Aria Sheth, BBA Batch of 2025, Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, Mumbai.
Sanjay Gandhi was the son of Indira Gandhi (Prime Minister of India from 1966-77 and 1980-84). Ever since his childhood, he was groomed for a political role by Indira Gandhi; presumably to succeed his mother’s term. During the 1970s, Sanjay Gandhi gained substantial political power soon after the Emergency was announced by the Indira Gandhi government in 1975. He became Indira Gandhi’s principal advisor and managed several affairs in her cabinet. He took executive decisions on her behalf, recruited new members to the Congress, and began to garner loyal following from the people. He stood for elections in 1977 but didn’t end up winning. However, he stood for the general elections once again in 1980 and won. He was subsequently appointed as the secretary general of Congress. He died later that year in a plane crash. The cause of the death was said to be loss of control over a new aircraft that he was flying (as a novice pilot) while performing an aerobatic maneuver.
The second party to this story is Swami Dhirendra Brahmachari, who was a Yogi from Bihar. He taught Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, and was appointed as a yogic mentor to Indira Gandhi. He ran ashrams in New Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. Over time, Swami Dhirendra became a close aide to Indira Gandhi, especially during her term as the Prime Minister. He became a trustee and a counsellor to Indira Gandhi and went on to become greatly politically influential in the mid-70s. It is important to note that it was around this time, in 1975, when Sanjay Gandhi was gaining immense political power in his party and in the country. While they were not publicly known to have any kind of relationship when Sanjay was alive, Swami Dhirendra organized the funeral arrangement of Sanjay Gandhi a day after his death and defended some of his political decisions after he passed away. However, the Swami’s political power only grew after Sanjay Gandhi’s death. He allegedly became Indira Gandhi’s confidant, privy to household as well as political matters, possibly influencing many of the decisions she made.
Sanjay Gandhi’s mysterious death just a few months after his success in the general elections in 1980 and the parallel advancement of Swami Dhirendra’s political power makes one hypothesize a rather bold conspiracy theory: Swami Dhirendra had something to do with Sanjay Gandhi’s untimely death. On a related note, it has been alleged by some that Indira Gandhi could have been involved in a conspiracy to kill Sanjay Gandhi so as to delegate power to Swami Dhirendra due to the nature of their relationship. While neither can be definitively ascertained, it is an interesting take on a controversial and complicated period in Independent India’s political history. What do you think?