India pays homage to first woman PM Indira Gandhi

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New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) The nation today paid tribute to India's first and to date only woman Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 24th death anniversary.

Remembering one of ''the most charismatic leaders of modern India'', in the national capital President Pratibha Patil, Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the nation in paying homage to the former Prime Minister at her memorial, the Shakti Sthal, while observing the ''Rashtriya Sankalp Diwas''.

The slain leader's family members, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, also placed wreaths and offered their prayers at the memorial.

Besides several Congress workers, Union Ministers Shivraj Patil, A K Antony, Delhi Lt Governor Tejendra Khanna, were among the several other dignitaries present on the occasion.

A bhajan programme was also held at the memorial. Later, most of the leaders visited Indira Gandhi's memorial at 7, Safdarjung Road, which was her official residence and participated in the bhajan programme.

People in Bihar joined the rest of the nation in paying rich tributes to Indira Gandhi.

In one of the main programmes at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Science at Shekhpura, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, along with several of his cabinet colleagues and a large number of Pradesh Congress leaders, including Former Chief Minister Jagannath Mishra and party spokesman Prem Chandra Mishra, garlanded the statue of Indira Gandhi and paid homage to the great leader, recalling her contribution in the country's political arena.

Similar programmes were also organised at the Pradesh Congress headquarters at Sadaquast Ashram here, where the BPCC president and many other party leaders, including former ministers, MPs and MLAs paid tributes to the former Prime Minister by garlanding her statue as a mark of respect.

The Chandigarh Union Territory Administration observed the ''Rashtriya Sankalp Diwas'' to mark the 24th death anniversary of the late Prime Minister.

A ceremony was organised in the Union Territory Secretariat compound where Administrator's Adviser Pradip Mehra administered pledge to the officials, along with Home Secretary Ram Niwas, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, IG Police S K Jain, Deputy Commissioner R K Rao, Senior Superintendent of Police S S Srivastava, Public Relations Director R S Verma and other senior officers and employees, as they took oath for working constructively for maintaining the freedom and unity of the nation and resolving all matters related to caste, creed, region, religion, or language through constitutional means without resorting to violence.

In Hyderabad, floral tributes were paid to mark the occasion of Indira Gandhi's death anniversary, as Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, his cabinet colleagues, PCC president D Srinivas and other leaders of the party garlanded a portrait of the late prime Minister at the party headquarters ''Gandhi Bhavan.'' Later, addressing party workers, the PCC Chief exhorted them to follow in the footsteps of Indira Gandhi, who was committed to the welfare of the downtrodden and worked for communal harmony and integrity of the country.

Verses from the holy scriptures were read out and a two-minute silence was observed to mark the occasion in both Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry.

In Puducherry, besides Chief Minister V Vaithilingam, his Cabinet colleagues, Pattali Makkal Katchi(PMK) Parliamentary party leader M Ramadass, legislators and senior officials of the territorial administration, Pradesh Congress Committee(PCC) president A V Subramanian, among others, who garlanded the statue of Indira Gandhi, leaders and volunteers of the Puducherry Munnetra Congress (PMC) also paid rich tributes to her.

Planting of saplings and poor feeding were held at several places on the occasion.

Indira Gandhi's ''dynamic ideas and policies'' had left an imprint on Indian politics and also world affairs, especially, the Non-alignment Movement. She was the Prime Minister for three consecutive terms from 1966 to 1977 and for a fourth term from 1980 until her assassination in 1984.

UNI TEAM SBC RAI2005

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