M A I N   N E W S

Special to the tribune
Jackie Kennedy found Indira pushy, horrible
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

Jacqueline Kennedy was sharply critical of world leaders, including Indira Gandhi, according to newly released audio tapes recorded months after the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy, in 1963.

In candid conversation with late White House aide and historian Arthur Schlesinger, she described Indira Gandhi as a "prune - bitter, kind of pushy, horrible woman”.

Jackie and her sister, Lee Radziwill, visited India in March of 1962 where she spent some time with the future Indian Prime Minister.

The audio tapes of the interview were aired by ABC News on Tuesday. Jackie, who was 34 at the time of the interview, was also critical of other world leaders of the time.

She described French President Charles de Gaulle as an ‘egomaniac’ and ‘spiteful man’.

She also said her husband had been disappointed upon meeting British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. “Jack had always wanted to meet Churchill. Well, the poor man [Churchill] was really quite ga-ga then,” she said. “I felt so sorry for Jack that evening because he was meeting his hero, only he met him too late.”

Jackie agreed to the interviews on condition that they would not be released until many years after her death. She died in 1994. The eight hours of recordings form the bedrock a book - “Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life With John F Kennedy” - published on Wednesday.

The former First Lady was also critical of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. whom she described as a ‘phony’ and a ‘terrible’ man.

She recalled how her brother-in-law, Robert F. Kennedy, had told her that King was drunk at her husband’s funeral and mocked the cardinal performing the service.Of the French, she said, “I loathe the French... They are not very nice, they are all for themselves.”

She says her husband disliked his vice-president, Lyndon Johnson, but was forced to pick him to give balance to his presidential ticket. Jack said it to me sometimes: “Oh, God, can you ever imagine what would happen to the country if Lyndon were president?”

Jackie confessed it wasn’t easy marrying into the Kennedy family. Everyone thought I was a snob from Newport, who had bouffant hair and had French clothes and hated politics,” she said.





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