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Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi (Hindustani: [ˈɪnːdɪrə ˈɡaːnd̪ʱi]; née Nehru; 19 November 1917 – 31 October 1984) was the fourth Prime Minister of India and a central figure of the Indian National Congress party. Gandhi, who served from 1966 to 1977 and then again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984, is the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of India and the only woman to hold the office.

Indira Gandhi was the only child of the first Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. She served as the Chief of Staff of her father's highly centralised administration between 1947 and 1964 and came to wield considerable unofficial influence in government. She was elected Congress President in 1959. Upon her father's death in 1964, Gandhi refused to enter Congress party leadership contest and instead chose to become a cabinet minister in the government led by Lal Bahadur Shastri. In Congress' party parliamentary leadership election held in early 1966 upon the death of Shastri, she defeated her rival, Morarji Desai, to become leader and thus succeed Shastri as the prime minister of India.

As the Prime Minister of India, Gandhi was known for her political ruthlessness and unprecedented centralisation of power. She went to war with Pakistan in support of the independence movement and war of independence in East Pakistan, which resulted in an Indian victory and the creation of Bangladesh, as well as increasing India's influence to the point where it became the regional hegemon of South Asia. Gandhi also presided over a state of emergency from 1975 to 1977 during which she ruled by decree and made lasting changes to the constitution of India. She was assassinated in 1984 by her Sikh bodyguards a few months after she ordered the storming of the Sikh holy Temple in Amritsar.

In 2001, Gandhi was voted the greatest Indian Prime Minister in a poll organised by India Today. She was also named "Woman of the Millennium" in a poll organised by the BBC in 1999.


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