Last week, I was watching the Hollywood blockbuster The Vinci Code, a 2006 mystery thriller on TV. The movie is an adaptation of Dan Brown’s 2003 best-selling novel by the same name. The movie makes several references to the Opus Dei, Vatican’s secret service and the most controversial force within the Catholic Church.
As I dug deeper to know more about this Catholic force, I stumbled upon some startling piece of information that pointed towards India. An ex-RAW blogger has revealed a lot of “classified information” about the deaths in the family of Indira Gandhi, one of India’s most powerful Prime Minister.
The blogger, who apparently was a part of the Indian intelligence during the reign of Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi, present a plausible hypothesis how the Western intelligence shaped the politics of India by planting Antonia Albina Maino, aka Sonia Gandhi.
As communism was sweeping over Europe after World War I, Stefano Maino, Antonia’s father, who was a staunch Roman Catholic, pledged his allegiance to the fascist forces led by Mussolini.
When Mussolini fell and was executed at the end of the Second World War, Stefano Maino seemed to be in grave danger. But the Vatican intervened and he was saved. It was surprising how Maino, a man with limited means, had the direct blessings of the Vatican. The case became clearer when it was discovered that a certain uncle of Stefano Maino worked for the powerful Opus Dei and it was he, who sponsored grand niece Antonio’s education in Cambridge.
When Indira Gandhi’s elder son Rajiv met Antonia in Cambridge in the 1960s, they hit it off quite famously, a love story that seemed right out of celluloid. The courtship was highly supported by the younger Gandhi’s small circle of Western friends. Interestingly, one among these friends was later inducted to the intelligence service of the Vatican. So what seemed to be an overtly romantic story between two people from different nations and diverse social backgrounds, had strong political undercurrents right from the inception.
The Indian intelligence collected various information about the future bahu of India, and presented a seemingly inconsequential picture at that point of time. Antonia’s connection to the Vatican seemed a mere coincidence, and the young pretty foreigner was inducted into one of India’s most influential political dynasties in 1968, when she wedded Rajiv Gandhi.
This was just the beginning of the end of the fierce Indira Gandhi and her two sons. In our next article, we shall trace how with multiple twists of fate, the eldest Gandhi bahu landed in what now is considered the most powerful seat of Indian politics.