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Singh says that neither Mrs Gandhi nor Pandit Nehru were personally inhibited. Quoting M.O. Mathai, Pandit Nehru's personal secretary for many years, Singh says that Panditji was close to a tantric sadhvi and Mrs Gandhi to Dhirendra Brahmachari. Singh describes Maneka as gauche even if photogenic.
Singh writes that Mrs Gandhi maintained that Maneka was not of the same class as the Nehru-Gandhis. He describes the manner in which relations between Mrs Gandhi and Maneka, never very amiable to start with, deteriorated rapidly after Sanjay Gandhi's death.
Aggrieved at Mrs Gandhi's attitude and her dislike of Maneka's mother Amteshwar Anand, it appears as if Maneka decided to take revenge in a calculated manner. Singh claims that Maneka told him of the manner in which she would orchestrate her departure from the Gandhi household.
In March 1982, upon her return from London, Mrs Gandhi was apparently angry with Maneka for her decision to launch the Sanjay Vichar Manch, along with Akbar Ahmed (Dumpy). She took strong exception to the speech that Maneka hadmade at the inaugural function.
Singh then relates how Maneka and her sister Ambika Anand stood their ground in the face of Mrs Gandhi's wrath. After a sharp exchange of abuse between Mrs Gandhi and Ambika, the two girls apparently made themselves comfortable and refused to leave the house.
Subsequently Arun Nehru and RajivGandhi were reportedly drafted in to evict Maneka. By now there was an army of press—Indian as well as foreign—outside the premises. Press flashbulbs exploded in her face by the time Maneka emerged from the house.
(Outlook does not subscribe to any of the views in this extract.)