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Rajiv Gandhi – A man with a vision for the future

Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India
 

Name: Rajiv Gandhi

Birth Date: 20 August 1944

Birth Place: Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra

Parents: Feroze Gandhi (Father) and Indira Gandhi (Mother)

Wife: Sonia Gandhi

Children: Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

Education: Doon School, Dehradun; Trinity College, Cambridge, England

Political Association: Indian National Congress

Religious views: Hinduism

Political Ideology: Right-winged; Liberal

Death: 21 May 1991

Memorial: Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu

Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest ever Prime Minister of India, holding the office at 40 years of age. He came from the most prominent political family of India, the Gandhi’s. He was the third person from the prestigious family to hold the post. He took over as Prime Minister of the nation after his mother and the only female Prime Minister of the country, Late Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. He remained in the office till 1989. Rajiv Gandhi was an iconic leader and had a rich political background. He represented the Indian National Congress. Today there are many schemes and awards in the country named after the late Prime Minister. He had launched many developmental projects which include the overhaul of national education policy and expansion of the telecom sector. However, he was also one of the most controversial Prime Minister as he was accused of many scandals which include the infamous Bofors scandal worth Rs. 640 million and Bhopal gas tragedy. He was assassinated on May 21, 1991, in a suicide bomb attack by the members of e Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

EARLY LIFE

Rajiv Gandhi was born on August 20, 1944, in the most influential political party of India- Gandhi-Nehru family. His parents were Feroze and Indira Gandhi. Rajiv along with his brother Sanjay Gandhi went to Shiv Niketan school. As a child, Rajiv was a shy and introverted kid who had a deep interest in painting.

Later he went to Welham Boys’ School and subsequently went to the Doon School in Dehradun in 1954. His brother Sanjay joined him two years later. In 1961, Rajiv went to London to study at Trinity College, Cambridge. He studied there till 1965. There he met Edvige Antonia Albina Màino whom he married later. She changed her name to Sonia Gandhi after marriage and is the current president of Congress party.

young Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi

young Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi

In 1966, he returned to India and trained as a pilot. He worked with Air India in 1970 as a pilot. At first he showed no interest in joining politics but after the death of his brother in an airplane crash he entered the political scenario of India.

Rajiv Gandhi with his family.jpg

Rajiv Gandhi with his family

He had two children named Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. While Rahul is active in politics, Priyanka who is married to a businessman Robert Vadra stays away from active politics.

POLITICAL CAREER

Entry into politics

Rajiv Gandhi had no intentions to join politics. In fact, his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi was seen as the successor to Indira Gandhi. However, Sanjay died in an air crash which forced Rajiv to enter the field of politics. Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand urged Rajiv to serve the nation instead of flying planes. A team of 70 members from the Congress party signed a petition and urged Rajiv Gandhi to enter politics. However, Indira Gandhi left it to Rajiv to make his own choice. At first, Rajiv was hesitant about it but after continuous persuading, he officially joined the Congress party on 16 February 1981.

Start of political journey

On 4 May 1981, Rajiv Gandhi was appointed as the candidate for the Amethi constituency. He contested the election and won his seat by defeating Sharad Yadav from Lok Dal by a margin of 237,000 votes. On 17 August he took the oath as a member of Parliment.

Rajiv Gandhi was loved and respected by everyone

Rajiv Gandhi was loved and respected by everyone

During his first political tour attended the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. In December he became the leader of Indian Youth Congress. He was also the part of games organizing committee during the 1982 Asian games which were held in India. He was given the credit for the success of Asiad 1982.

1984 – ANTI-SIKH RIOTS

Indira Gandhi who at that time was the Prime Minister of India was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards on 31 October 1984. The resulted in the infamous 1984 riots in which many Sikhs were brutally killed. Days after it Rajiv Gandhi said in a rally that when a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes. He was massively criticized for this statement. Many considered that he was trying to justify the riots by saying this. Many Congress leaders are accused of instigating the riots against Sikhs.

PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA

Rajiv Gandhi taking the oath as Prime Minister

Rajiv Gandhi taking the oath as Prime Minister

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, President Zail Singh and Sardar Buta Singh urged Rajiv Gandhi to succeed his mother as the next Prime Minister of the country. Soon after taking over the office, he asked the President to hold fresh elections. Congress party won the following elections by a huge margin and now Rajiv Gandhi was in total control of the government. His corrupt free image and young aura combined with the sentiments following the death of Indira Gandhi helped him to win the elections. On 31 December 1984, he took the oath as the Prime Minister of India. At the age of 40, he became the youngest person to hold the office in Indian history. He achieved this feat just 3 years after entering the politics.

BOFORS SCANDAL

Rajiv Gandhi’s image as a clean Prime Minister was tarnished by the Bofors scandal. VP Singh, who was the finance minister at the time revealed some compromising details about the corruption prevailed in the Congress party. The report said that Swedish arms company paid million of dollars to the party leaders through Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was an Italian businessman and a close associate of Gandhi family in order to get the contract from the Indian government. It was said that the Prime Minister was aware of this and was involved in the scandal. VP Singh was dismissed and later he resigned from the party. However, in 2004 Rajiv Gandhi was cleared of the allegations against him. But the scandal had already tarnished his image of a clean politician.

DEATH

Rajiv Gandhi Funeral Live Telecast

Rajiv Gandhi Funeral Live Telecast

Rajiv Gandhi attended his last public meeting on 21 May 1991 at Sriperumbudur. He was campaigning for Congress. During the rally, a woman approached him and greeted him. She appeared to bend down to touch his feet. But she was a suicide bomber. She detonated a belt tucked under her dress which was laden with explosives. The blast killed Rajiv Gandhi on the spot along with 26 other people. A 21-year-old local photographer captured the entire incident on his camera. Though he died in the blast, the camera remained intact.

24 May 1991 a funeral was held for Rajiv Gandhi which was telecasted live. Dignitaries from over 60 countries attended the funeral. He was cremated at Veer Bhumi near the shrine of his ancestors.

Holds a Bachelor degree in English Hons. and is pursuing animation which has been his childhood dream.He has a keen interest in writing and unlocking various aspects about different fields of education

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