January 19, 1966 – Indira Gandhi leads India

January 19, 1966 – Indira Gandhi leads India

On January 19, 1966, Indira Gandhi becomes prime minister of India.

She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, who led India from independence in 1947 until his death in 1964.

In 1967, Indira won a narrow election victory and, as a result, had to rule with a deputy prime minister until 1971, when she won a resounding reelection victory. That year, she ordered India’s invasion of Pakistan in support of the creation of Bangladesh.

She initiated new ties with the Soviets, nationalized leading banks, and curbed class privileges, but also faced charges of police-state tactics.

In 1977, she left the prime minister’s office after three terms but was reelected in 1980. When militant Sikhs seeking independence for the state of Punjab occupied their holy temple in 1984, she ordered a controversial government assault that killed hundreds. In retaliation, Sikh members of her own bodyguard group assassinated her on October 31, 1984.