UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi has said that India and Russia enjoy excellent relations due to the legacy of former prime minister Indira Gandhi and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and successive Indian prime ministers for consolidating that legacy.
She was speaking on Wednesday at the inauguration of a photo exhibition organised here to celebrate the Centenary Anniversary of India's first woman prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Gandhi said the exhibition on her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi tells the story of a courageous, compelling and charismatic leader who left an indelible imprint not only on her own country, not only on the India-USSR relationship but on the world stage as well.
"India and Russia enjoy such excellent relations is in no small measure due to her legacy, a legacy that has been consolidated by President Putin and successive Indian prime ministers," she said.
Gandhi said her family's ties with Russia dates back to 1927 when Indira Gandhi's grandfather Motilal Nehru, father Jawaharlal Nehru and mother Kamala first visited Moscow, according to a press release issued by the Congress party.
"It was this journey that inspired Nehru to write his very first book, 'Soviet Russia: Some Random Sketches and Impressions'," she said.
"Indira Gandhi herself made her first trip to Russia in 1953. Her letters to her father tell him how excited and deeply moved she was by Moscow and her people," Gandhi added.
India and Russia shared a special partnership that has resulted in laying the foundations of India's industrialisation which are still very visible, she said.
"These include steel plants, oil refineries, engineering complexes, power stations and fertilizer factories. The Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai that is now globally renowned was started with Russian assistance. Indira Gandhi took the Indo-Soviet link to a new level altogether, giving it solid strategic content as well," she said.
Commending Russia's support to India during the Bangladesh's War of Independence, Gandhi said Moscow "stood like a rock" with India during New Delhi's moment of "grave crisis".
"There was a genuine warmth and a rare chemistry between Indira Gandhi and the Russian leaders," she said.