The flipside of Narendra Modi’s victory in the 2014 Indian election was the dramatic rejection of the Congress party. In part, the apparently dynastic nature of Congress was contrasted with the aspirational story of Modi’s rise. Yet on another level, Modi holds a lot in common with an earlier Gandhi scion – Indira Gandhi. Both are centralizing and divisive, populists and dominant in their political arenas. In Gandhi’s final term in office, trends emerged that have fed into Modi’s rise and shaped India’s development.
Indira Gandhi was prime minister of India for two periods. The first, from 1967 to 1977, culminated in the only deviation from democratic rule in India’s independent history with the two years of ‘Emergency Rule’ from 1975. The second, beginning with Gandhi’s comeback in 1980, was brought to an end in 1984 by her assassination.