Life History | Achievements | Death
Rajiv Gandhi served as the 6th Prime Minister of India , also the prime advisor and member of the Indian National Congress. He was the descendent of the esteemed Nehru – Gandhi family. He also served at many important titles and positions during his life time. He was the youngest Prime Minister ever to serve his country after the assassination of his mother, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.
Family Bio & Facts
Rajiv Gandhi was born to Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi in Bombay in 1944. Feroze was a prominent politician and an award winning journalist. He worked as the publisher of the National Herald in Lucknow and then also served as the member of the Lok Sabha. Even in his childhood days, Rajiv Gandhi was considered innovative and smart. He got into Trinity College in Cambridge after completing his education in India. He had also started doing his masters from the Imperial College, but he left it midway as the subjects didn’t interest him much. He came to back in 1966 when his mother Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister. Rajiv also trained as a pilot at the Flying Club and he was also taken in by Air India as a permanent pilot. Rajiv Gandhi scarcely had any kind of political ambitions and he wanted to live a simple life devoid of any kind of confusions in his life. He married Sonia Gandhi in 1968, and they had a son Rahul Gandhi and a daughter Priyanka Gandhi respectively, both of whom are currently active members of the Indian National Congress.
Sanjay’s Death & the start of Rajiv’s Political career
Rajiv Gandhi’s statement about not entering politics suddenly took a dangerous turn when his younger brother Sanjay died in an unexpected plane crash. Rajiv Gandhi was in London then, owing to his foreign tour via Air India. After hearing the grave news, he rushed back to India and cremated his brother’s body with all the prescribed rituals. Following Sanjay’s death, a Badrinath based saint called Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand urged him to join politics and be a part in developing the nation and to never fly again. Around the same time, some members of the Congress urged Indira that she advise Rajiv Gandhi to join politics. Indira however left the ball in his court stating that it would be his decision alone and not otherwise.
On February, 1981, Rajiv Gandhi addressed his very first political rally in Delhi, following which on May, 1981, Indira proposed him as the candidate for the Amethi Constituency, which is still considered as the Gandhi stronghold. The Indian National Congress members accepted his candidacy enabling him to become the full time member of the party. He won the seat against the then Lok Dal Chief Sharad Yadav and then became the Member of the Parliament.
Indira Gandhi’s Death & The Sikh Riots
Disaster struck yet again in Rajiv’s life when his mother, Indira Gandhi was brutally assassinated by her bodyguards on the 31st October, 1984. That sparked the beginning of the Anti-Sikh massacre and more than 3000 Sikhs were put to death across the country, the largest number being in Delhi. Other sources also claim that more than 8000 Sikhs were killed across the country; it was carnage unlike anything that the country ever witnessed. The Congress has never admitted to this, but it was a well known fact that the Congress acted as the true perpetrators behind these riots.
Rajiv Gandhi again carried out his responsibility diligently by putting her remains to rest amidst protection. He also addressed a rally at the Boat Club 19 days after the assassination of his mother and he was quoted, “Some riots took place in the country following Indiraji’s death. The people were very angry and it seemed that our country has been shaken to its very roots. But when the tree falls, it is natural that the ground will shake.” The statement was taken in negative sense and it also sealed the fact that Congress did indeed instigate this mass murder and it was criticized by many in the political circle.
The 6th Prime Minister of India
Moments after Indira Gandhi was assassinated, the senior Leader of the Indian National Congress Sardar Buta Singh urged Rajiv Gandhi to take the reins into his own hands and steer the country forward as the next Prime Minister of the country. Following which he made his controversial statement at the Boat Club sealing the fact that Congress were the sole perpetrators of the violent 1984 Sikh riots. Rajiv Gandhi was the crowned as the 6th Prime Minister of India, post which he requested the then President Gyani Zail Singh to conduct fresh elections and completely dissolve the Parliament. Many known personalities in the political domain questioned the Prime Minister if he was indeed the right person to govern this country as he has only about 3 years of experience into active politics. But Rajiv Gandhi was there to prove his detractors wrong with the way he had laid out his plans for the party and for the country.
Policies & Laws
There were many policies and laws which came into action soon after he was sworn in as the Prime Minister; some of them are as follows.
1985’s Anti Defection Law
This was the first course of action which Rajiv Gandhi took as the Prime Minister of India. As per the stated law, any member of the Parliament who is a current member of the party would not be able to join the opposition until the following election takes place. After his statements about the Anti-Sikh riots, many party members had joined the opposition, and the law prevented any kind of future defections.
Rajiv Gandhi had mentioned anything about improving the economic policies of the country, but he kept that in mind whilst joining office as the PM. He started providing monetary incentives so that the private productions would not suffer, corporate firms were provided with a set amount of subsidies to increase the production, decrease the maximum retail rates and also make their lives easier. Rajiv Gandhi also laid prime emphasis on development through science and technology as he believed that it is the key to the future and the country needs to monetize and benefit from that.
Rajiv Gandhi had a vision on improving the foreign policy of the country by mapping India to the world. His policies were focused on making India a strong, reliable and an independent economy and a nation that would one day make its mark in front of the world. He was requested by the then President of Seychelles, France-Albert Rene to protect him from an alleged coup, the operation was successful as they were able to stop the coup on time. Another coup was to be conducted this time on Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and Rajiv Gandhi provided help on that as well. He also met the then Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq and they discussed about strengthening their borders and maintaining peace between both the countries. He also signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord in 1987 in the presence of the then Lankan President, J.R. Jayawardene enabling to protect the interests of the Tamil people and ensuring a long term peace in Sri Lanka.
Bofors Scandal & Black Money Allegations
This scandal marred the reputation of the Government by leaps and bounds. Finance Minister V.P. Singh shed light on compromising details about the political corruption in the Government which later culminated into the Bofors Scandal. The Swedish Arms and Ammunition Company called Bofors had dealt with transactions worth millions of dollars through Gandhi’s family associate named Ottavio Quattrocchi to receive bogus contracts. V.P. Singh was defamed and dismissed from office after he unearthed this; he even resigned as the member of the Congress Even Rajiv was implicated as being a part of this scandal which permanently tarnished his image among the general public.
Furthermore, he was also proved to be the black money holder as illegal amounts were unearthed in multiple Swiss Bank amounts totaling to 2.5 billion Swiss Francs. The opposition demanded the ouster This happened post his Prime Ministerial term but his image was completed disregarded by people all around the country.
Assassination & Aftermath
Rajiv Gandhi was scheduled to address a public meet on 1991 at Sriperumbudur, Chennai for the Congress Lok Sabha Candidate over there. At around 10p.m., a woman named Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, supposedly a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE) detonated herself while in close proximity to Rajiv Gandhi. She came close to him and on the pretext of touching her feet and blew herself up.
Rajiv Gandhi and Thenmozhi were killed on the spot along with 25 others commoners. A funeral was conducted with all the honors and it was attended by luminaries from over 60 countries at Veer Bhumi in Delhi which stands as the monument and a constant reminder of the tragic deed. A memorial was also erected at Sriperumbudur named as the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial. Owing to the animosity between the Peace Keeping Indian Forces and the LTTE, the Supreme Court passed judgement on some of the accused, but the mystery still remains unsolved till date.
The day of his assassination, 21st May is a tragic reminder of a man who tried to change the country, but failed miserably in the attempt. It is now celebrated as the Anti-Terrorism in the wake of a life lost and a visionary lost forever.
Source : Youtube