Indecent proposal: Vijayalakshmi Pandit advised Indira to take Feroze Gandhi on as lover rather than as husband

Nehru, Gandhiji opposed the alliance as Feroze was a Parsi

Indira married Feroze Gandhi against the wishes of Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhiji. They opposed the alliance, as Feroze was a Parsi and did not have any family background. Her aunt Vijayalakshmi Pandit even suggested that she should keep Feroze as a lover and marry someone from a prominent family. But Indira stuck to her stand and married him, according to Khushwant Singh’s Why I Supported the Emergency.

But Feroze was not Indira’s first lover. Indira had admitted that while she was a student at Santiniketan, she had an affair with a German who taught her French. “They continued to exchange correspondence till she married Feroze Gandhi,” writes Khushwant Singh.

Indira’s marriage with Feroze was not all that rosy. He flirted with Indira’s cousins, had affairs with Tarakeshwari Sinha, Mehmuna Sultana, Subhadra Joshi and others. “Indira temporarily broke up with him but, as often happens, she forgave her husband. Not, however, the women who had associated with him,” writes Singh.

Indira’s aide MO Mathai, in his autobiography, claimed that he was her lover for 12 years and had even once made her pregnant. She had to have an abortion. On Mathai’s claim Khushwant Singh writes: “Mathai lost out to Indira’s Yoga teacher, Dhirendra Brahmachari, and later to Dinesh Singh who was a minister in her cabinet. The historian S Gopal believes Mathai’s relationship with Indira had crossed permissible limits; BK Nehru supports him; ‘It’s more fact than fiction,’ he told Katherine Frank. I knew the three men. Mathai was a singularly unattractive man with little to say for himself. But people under the public gaze cannot afford to have liaisons with persons of their choice. The body has its own compulsions and finds out outlets that are easily available.”  But Singh disapproves of Mathai’s action of revealing bedroom secrets. Compared to Mathai, Dhirendra Brahmachari was well-built, tall handsome person. He used to spend an hour with Indira every morning. “Yoga lessons may have ended up lessons from theKamasutra,” writes Singh.

Dinesh Singh was a flamboyant man with close associations with the Nehru-Gandhi family. “As for Dinesh Singh, it was he who allowed gossip about his relations with the prime minister to spread. At many late-night dinners in the homes of diplomats, he arranged for messages to be sent that Indira would like him to drop in on her on his way home.”


Why I Supported the Emergency: Khushwant Singh

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