New Delhi: Indira Gandhi spoke of her granddaughter Priyanka as her virtual political heir shortly before her death, predicting that "she will shine and the next century will be hers".
This has been revealed in the book "The Chinar Leaves" by veteran Congress leader M L Fotedar, to whom Indira Gandhi during her visit to Srinagar in October 1984 had shared her premonition that she may not live long and clearly mentioned her preference to have Priyanka groomed to assume reins of the party.
Fotedar quoted the former Prime Minister as saying to him, "People will see me in her."
The book, brought out by HarperCollins and is yet to be released, comes at a time when there are frequent calls within the Congress to bring Priyanka into active politics.
Fotedar, a senior member of the Congress Working Committee, also recalls in his account of Congress history that while former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had reacted happily when told of Indira's desires about Priyanka, Sonia Gandhi has not taken kindly to what the messenger had to say.
He adds that while Rajiv Gandhi had responded with happiness when he brought Indira's desires about Priyanka to his notice, Sonia had responded in quite the opposite manner.
The book also claims that Sonia was miffed at Fotedar when he told her about Indira's will and left the room in a huff as she was taken aback with her mother-in-law's views.
This, the author says, happened when he went to meet Sonia who had sought his counsel on fielding son Rahul into politics with a ticket in Amethi.
Fotedar's about-to-be-released book documents facts about a will Indira Gandhi dictated to him two days before she died.
"I may not live long. But you must watch over her - Priyanka - as she grows," Fotedar quotes Indira as telling him a few days before her death, where she shared with him how clearly she foresaw the glorious future of Priyanka.
She also told him, "You will live to see her grow and shine on the national horizon. People will see me in her and remember me when they see her. She will shine and the next century will be hers. Then people will forget me."
The book also mentions that Sonia had sought Fotedar's advice when she decided to vacate her Amethi seat for Rahul.
Fotedar says that when he handed over Indira's will dictated to him just two days before her death, "Soniaji's face became very grim. She asked me very curtly whether this was what Indiraji had desired."
After he replied in the affirmative and told her that every word written on that paper had been dictated by Indiraji and explained the circumstances in which this conversation happened.
"I also told her that I had brought this to the notice of Rajivji who was very happy to read it. Rajivji had asked me, 'Mummy ne aisa kaha hai?' and then instructed me to preserve this document. Soniaji seemed upset and left the room in a huff. She had not taken kindly to the messenger," Fotedar said, adding that Rajiv Gandhi had taken special care to groom Priyanka for the role his mother had envisaged for her.
"I am a great believer in destiny and my experiences over the years have only confirmed my belief that circumstances beyond human imagination and ingenuity play a major role in shaping the destiny of nations and the people running them," he says in the book.
Fotedar also writes how Indira wanted to die walking and not like her father who had suffered a lot towards the end.
"Indiraji said, 'I don't want to die like Pappu'. She then gestured with both arms held out parallel before her to indicate a path, and said: 'I would like to die while walking! I would like to die walking!'."