Feroze Gandhi

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Feroze Gandhi
Feroze Gandhi.jpg
Feroze Gandhi
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Pratapgarh District (west)-Rae Bareli District (east)[1]
In office
17 April 1952 – 4 April 1957
Member of the Indian Parliament
for Rae Bareli[2]
In office
5 May 1952 – 8 September 1960
Succeeded by Baij Nath Kureel
Personal details
Born Feroze Jehangir Gandhy
(1912-09-12)12 September 1912
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died 8 September 1960(1960-09-08) (aged 47)
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Resting place Parsi cemetery, Allahabad
Nationality Indian
Political party Indian National Congress
Spouse(s) Indira Gandhi
Children Sanjay Gandhi,
Rajiv Gandhi
Religion Zoroastrianism

Feroze Gandhi (born Feroze Jehangir Gandhy; 12 September 1912 – 8 September 1960) was an Indian politician and journalist. He served as the publisher of the The National Herald and The Navjivan newspapers from Lucknow. He was the husband of Indira Gandhi and the son-in-law to Jawaharlal Nehru.

In 1942 he married Indira Nehru (later Prime Minister of India) and they had two sons, Rajiv Gandhi (also later a Prime Minister) and Sanjay Gandhi, and thus became part of the Nehru–Gandhi dynasty.[3] He became a member of the provincial parliament (1950–1952), and later a member of the Lok Sabha, the Lower House of India's parliament. Despite his name, he is not related to Mahatma Gandhi.[4]

Early life[edit]

Feroze Jehangir Gandhi was born to a Parsi family at the Tehmulji Nariman Hospital situated in Fort, Bombay. His parents, Faredoon Jehangir and Ratimai (formerly Ratimai Commissariat), lived in Nauroji Natakwala Bhawan in Khetwadi Mohalla in Bombay.[5] His father Jehangir Gandhi was a Marine Engineer in Killick Nixon and was later promoted as a Warrant Engineer.[6] Feroze was the youngest of the five children with two brothers Dorab Gandhi and Faridun Jehangir Gandhi,[7][8] and two sisters, Tehmina Kershashp Gandhi and Aloo Gandhi Dastur.[9] The family had migrated to Bombay from Bharuch in South Gujarat where their ancestral home, which belonged to his grandfather, still exists in Kotpariwad.[10]

In the early 1920s, after the death of his father, Feroze and his mother moved to Allahabad to live with his unmarried maternal aunt, Shirin Commissariat, a surgeon at the city's Lady Dufferin Hospital (Biographer Katherine Frank has speculated that Feroze was in fact the biological son of Shirin Commissariat.[11]) He attended the Vidya Mandir High School and then graduated from the British-staffed Ewing Christian College.[6]

Family and Career[edit]

In 1930, the wing of Congress Freedom fighters, the Vanar Sena was formed. Feroze met Kamala Nehru and Indira among the women demonstrators picketing outside Ewing Christian College. Kamala fainted with the heat of the sun and Feroze went to comfort her. The next day, he abandoned his studies in 1930 to join the Indian independence movement. He was imprisoned in 1930, along with Lal Bahadur Shastri, head of Allahabad District Congress Committee, and lodged in Faizabad Jail for nineteen months. Soon after his release, he was involved with the agrarian no-rent campaign in the United Province (now Uttar Pradesh) and was imprisoned twice, in 1932 and 1933, while working closely with Nehru.[6]

The marriage ceremony of Feroze Gandhi, and Indira Nehru at Anand Bhavan, on March 26, 1942. In 1984, a photograph of the wedding was used in court to show that the ceremony followed Hindu, and not Parsi, rituals.[12]

Feroze first proposed to Indira in 1933, but she and her mother rejected it, putting forward that she was too young, only 16.[6] He grew close to the Nehru family, especially to Indira's mother Kamala Nehru, accompanying her to the TB Sanatorium at Bhowali in 1934, helping arrange her trip to Europe when her condition worsened in April 1935, and visiting her at the sanitarium at Badenweiler and finally at Lausanne, where he was at her bedside when she died on 28 February 1936.[6] In the following years, Indira and Feroze grew closer to each other while in England. They married in March 1942 according to Hindu rituals.[12][13]

Portrait of Feroze and Indira Gandhi.

Indira's father Jawaharlal Nehru opposed her marriage and approached Mahatma Gandhi to dissuade the young couple, but to no avail. The couple were arrested and jailed in August 1942, during the Quit India Movement less than six months after their marriage, he was imprisoned for a year in Allahabad's Naini Central Prison. The coming five years were of comfortable domestic life and the couple had two sons, Rajiv and Sanjay, born in 1944 and 1946 respectively.

After independence, Jawaharlal became the first Prime Minister of India. Feroze and Indira settled in Allahabad with their two young children, and Feroze became Managing Director of The National Herald, a newspaper founded by his father-in-law. He was also the first chairman of Indian Oil Corporation Limited.

After being a member of the provincial parliament (1950–1952), Gandhi won independent India's first general elections in 1952, from Rae Bareli constituency in Uttar Pradesh. Indira came down from Delhi and worked as his campaign organizer. Gandhi soon became a prominent force in his own right, criticizing the government of his father-in-law and beginning a fight against corruption.

In the years after independence, many Indian business houses had become close to the political leaders, and now some of them started various financial irregularities. In a case exposed by Gandhy in December 1955,[14] he revealed how Ram Kishan Dalmia, as chairman of a bank and an insurance company, used these companies to fund his takeover of Bennett and Coleman and started transferring money illegally from publicly held companies for personal benefit.

In 1957, he was re-elected from Rae Bareli. In the parliament in 1958, he raised the Haridas Mundhra scandal involving the government controlled LIC insurance company. This was a huge embarrassment to the clean image of Nehru's government and eventually led to the resignation of the Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari. His rift with Indira had also become public knowledge by then, and added to the media interest in the matter.

Feroze also initiated a number of nationalization drives, starting with the Life Insurance Corporation. At one point he also suggested that Tata Engineering and Locomotive Company (TELCO) be nationalized since they were charging nearly double the price of a Japanese railway engine. This raised a stir in the Parsi community since the Tatas were also Parsi. He continued challenging the government on a number of other issues, and emerged as a parliamentarian well-respected on both sides of the bench.[14]

Death[edit]

Feroze suffered a heart attack in 1958. Indira, who stayed with her father at Teen Murti House, the official residence of the prime minister, was at that time away on a state visit to Bhutan. She returned to look after him in Kashmir.[15] Feroze died in 1960 at the Willingdon Hospital, Delhi, after suffering a second heart attack. He was cremated and his ashes interred at the Parsi cemetery in Allahabad.[16]

His Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituency seat was held by his daughter-in-law, and wife of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi in 2004 and in 2009.

A school of higher education that he helped found was named for him in Rae Bareli.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Biographical Sketch of First Lok Sabha". Parliament of India. Retrieved 16 April 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Biographical Sketch of Second Lok Sabha". Parliament of India. Retrieved 16 April 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ A forgotten patriot: Feroze Gandhy made a mark in politics at a comparatively young age.. The Hindu, 20 October 2002.
  4. ^ Lyon, Peter (2008) Conflict Between India and Pakistan: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO. p. 64. ISBN 978-1576077122. "Feroze Gandhi was no relation of Mahatma Gandhi."
  5. ^ Shashi Bhushan (2008). Feroze Gandhi. Frank Bros. & Co. p. 8. ISBN 978-81-8409-494-7. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Frank, Katherine (2002). Indira: The life of Indira Nehru Gandhi. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0-395-73097-X. 
  7. ^ "Sonia assures help for father-in-law’s grave". Indian Express. 21 November 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2012. [dead link]
  8. ^ "This Mrs Gandhi only wants her pension". Indian Express. 28 September 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2012. [dead link]
  9. ^ New Era in the Indian Polity: A Study of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the BJP – G. N. S. Raghavan. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Rajiv Gandhi, the end of a dream – Minhaz Merchant. Google Books. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Frank, Ketherine (2010). Indira: The Life of Indira Nehru Gandhi. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 93. ISBN 978-0395730973. "Why, then, did she take full responsibility of her young nephew? Possibly because Feroze were her own child" 
  12. ^ a b "Mrs. Gandhi Not Hindu, Daughter-in-Law Says". New York Times. 2 May 1984. Retrieved 29 March 2009. 
  13. ^ "The wonder of Indira". outlook. 
  14. ^ a b Shashi Bhushan, M.P. (1977). Feroze Gandhy: A political Biography. Progressive People's Sector Publications, New Delhi. p.166, 179. See these excerpts
  15. ^ "Indira Gandhi's courage was an inspiration". Samay Live. 7 November 2009. 
  16. ^ Kapoor, Comi (10 February 1998). "Dynasty keeps away from Feroze Gandhy's neglected tombstone". The Indian Express. [dead link]
  17. ^ Feroze Gandhi College; http://fgc.edu.in

External links[edit]