Atal Bihari Vajpayee Had Refuted Calling Indira Gandhi ‘Durga’

Gulam Nabhi Azad claimed that following the Indo-Pak war of 1971, Vajpayee had referred to Indira Gandhi as “Durga.”

2 min read
Former Indian PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. 

Condoling Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s demise, leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha Gulam Nabhi Azad expressed appreciation for Vajpayee’s ability to praise the opposition party. However, in appreciation of Vajpayee, Azad may have also accidentally made a faux pas.

Saying that he has very happy memoories of him and his passing away is a personal loss to him, Azad also claimed that following the Indo-Pak war of 1971, Vajpayee had referred to Indira Gandhi as “Durga.”

I am deeply saddened by the sad demise of former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee who was a great human being and a true statesman. He never hesitated in giving full credit to his opposition party leaders whenever due. I distinctly remember when he praised then PM Indira Gandhi after Indo-Pak war of 1971 and referred to her as Durga. I had occasion of interacting with him over the long period of his Parliamentary career and had very close interaction with him when I was looking after the Parliamentary Affairs portfolio and he was the Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha. 
Gulam Nabhi Azad

Some Vajpayee admirers also took to Twitter to reiterate this claim and praise Vajpayee for his large-heartedness.

However, this claim is not a fresh claim. It has been doing the rounds seemingly for decades. And in an Aap ki Adalat episode on India TV, Vajpayee had strongly refuted it.


On being asked by host Rajat Sharma whether he had indeed referred to Indira Gandhi as ‘Durga’, Vajapyee said that he never had and that was something that the press just wanted to print.

I never referred to Indira Gandhi as Durga. This is something that the press decided to print. I kept saying that I have never called her Durga. They kept insisting that I have. Then there was a lot of investigation carried out on this. Shri Pupul Jayakar was writing a book on Indira Gandhi’s life and she came to me to ask me if I had said this. I said no, I never did. Then she scanned all the books in all the libraries, and she never found any evidence to state that I had actually called her Durga. But this Durga reference never left my back. And look at you, asking me this today.   

Tweeple have reacted wildly to those, who like the 90s press, are still implying that Vajpayee had used the D word for Indira Gandhi.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!