Did Sanjay Gandhi slap ex-PM Indira Gandhi at a private dinner party? Know the truth

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Lewis M Simons, claimed in one of his reports that Sanjay slapped his mother Indira several times at a private dinner party in Delhi.

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On 25 June 1975, an Emergency was declared in the country. After this, events started changing rapidly in the country. Opposition leaders started getting arrested on a large scale. During this time, the person who emerged more powerful than the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was Sanjay Gandhi. He not only implemented his five-point program but also emerged as the biggest advisor to his mother Indira. However, people called him hot-tempered. During the Emergency itself, the Washington Post published a report that Sanjay Gandhi got angry and slapped his mother Indira several times at a dinner party. This report was sensational and equally unbelievable. Later, when Indira Gandhi lost the elections, she completely denied it in a long interview.

Sanjay emerged as powerful as he was controversial. He was then considered the future Prime Minister of the country. It was believed that Indira Gandhi was preparing him to be her successor. However, all kinds of speculations about his behavior with his mother continued in the 80s and 90s.

During the Emergency, speculation spread throughout the country that Sanjay slapped his mother several times in public at a dinner party. US-based newspaper “Washington Post” even published a report on this however it was given no coverage in India.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lewis M Simons was then a correspondent for “Washington Post” in Delhi when emergency had been imposed. He claimed in one of his reports that Sanjay slapped his mother Indira several times at a private dinner party in Delhi. Then Simons told him on what basis he published this news. How did he find out about it?

Reply of the Washington Post reporter

When Scroll asked him through email when you did a story about Indira being slapped in “Washington Post”, why did you not give the name of the source? When did this incident happen? Why did Sanjay do this? He wrote in reply, “This incident happened in a private party before the Emergency was imposed. I did not write it down immediately but kept it to do it later. I don't remember why Sanjay was angry. After all, a long time has passed since this incident."

The next question asked to him was, "Did the source who gave him this information tell him himself or did the information come out spontaneously in a casual conversation?" Simons wrote, "There were two sources for this, both knew each other and were at this party. One of them told this to my wife when she was coming home. This was the evening before the emergency was declared. The other source confirmed it."

Indian journalists have raised questions on this story Senior journalist Kumi Kapoor mentioned this in her book "The Emergency-A Personal History". She wrote, that this news spread from one person to another like wildfire. However, due to censorship, no newspaper published it. She too had talked to the reporter. When he was asked, did you have any idea of the impact of what you were publishing, the Washington Post journalist replied, “Of course, I have an idea of how much Indian people like gossip. However, the foreign media covered this story prominently."

Was the claim true?

During the Emergency in India, there were rumors that Sanjay Gandhi slapped his mother, Indira Gandhi. The Washington Post published this story, citing anonymous sources. The reporter claimed that both sources were at the dinner party and confirmed the incident. Indian media couldn't report it due to censorship. Even though the reporter knew it was gossip, foreign media covered it. Indira Gandhi denied the allegation, and the truth remains unclear.