RAJIV GANDHI (1944–1991)
Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was the youngest Prime Minister of India, maybe even one among the youngest elected heads of state within the world. His mother, Smt. Gandhi , was eight years older when she first became Prime Minister in 1966. His illustrious grandfather, Pt. Nehru , was 58 when he started the long innings of 17 years as free India’s first Prime Minister.
As the harbinger of a generational change within the country, Shri Gandhi received the most important mandate within the nation’s history. He ordered elections to the Lok Sabha, the directly elected house of the Indian Parliament, as soon as mourning for his slain mother was over. therein election, the Congress, got a way higher proportion of the favored vote than within the preceding seven elections and captured a record 401 seats out of 508.
Such a powerful start because the leader of 700 million Indians would are remarkable under any circumstance. What makes it even more unique is that Shri Gandhi was a late and reluctant entrant into politics albeit he belonged to an intensely political family that had served India for four generations – both during the liberty struggle and afterwards.
Early Life Family and Education
Shri Rajiv Gandhi was born on August 20, 1944, in Bombay. He was just three when India became independent and his grandfather became Prime Minister. His parents moved to New Delhi from Lucknow. His father, Feroze Gandhi, became an M.P., and earned a reputation as a fearless and hard-working Parliamentarian.
Rajiv Gandhi spent his infancy together with his grandfather within the Teen Murti House, where Gandhi served because the Prime Minister’s hostess. He briefly visited school at Welham Prep in Dehra Dun but soon moved to the residential Doon School within the Himalayan foothills. There he made many lifelong friendships and was also joined by his younger brother, Sanjay.
After leaving school, Shri Gandhi visited Trinity College, Cambridge, but soon shifted to the Imperial College (London). He did a course in engineering . He really wasnt curious about ‘mugging for his exams’, as went on to admit later.
It was clear that politics didnt interest him as a career. consistent with his classmates, his bookshelves were lined with volumes on science and engineering, not works on philosophy, politics or history. Music, however, had a pride of place in his interests. He liked Western and Hindustani classical, also as modern music. Other interests included photography and amateur radio.
His greatest passion, however, was flying. No wonder then, that on returning home from England, he passed the doorway examination to the Delhi Flying Club, and visited the obtain a billboard pilot’s licence. Soon, he became a pilot with Indian Airlines, the domestic national carrier.
While at Cambridge, he had met Sonia Maino, an Italian who was studying English. They were married in New Delhi in 1968. They stayed in Smt. Indira Gandhi’s residence in New Delhi with their two children, Rahul and Priyanka. Theirs was a really private life despite the encompassing din and bustle of political activity.
But his brother Sanjay’s death in an air crash in 1980 changed that. Pressures on Shri Gandhi to enter politics and help his mother, then besieged by many internal and external challenges, grew. He resisted these pressures initially , but later bowed to their logic. He won the by-election to the Parliament, caused by his brother’s death, from Amethi in U.P.
In June 1980 Sanjay Gandhi was killed while learning to fly when the plane he was piloting crashed in New Delhi . He had been instrumental as his mothers adviser in guiding Congress (I) party and governmental affairs from the mid-1970s on. He was also a member of Parliament elected from the Amethi district of Uttar Pradesh state of northern India.
After the death of his brother, his mother urged Gandhi to enter politics. Resigning his position with Indian Airlines, Gandhi served first as an adviser to his mother, and then, like his brother, entered Parliament by winning the seat made vacant by his brothers death. He was elected general secretary of the Congress (I) party and also supervised the completion of arrangements for the Asian Games which India hosted in 1982. Additionally, he remained one among his mothers chief advisers on a variety of both domestic and policy matters.
In handling party affairs, Gandhi showed little tolerance for those members who were incompetent, corrupt, or sycophantic followers of the Gandhi family. He began to streamline the Congress (I) organization by introducing modern managerial techniques and trying to bring younger, more dynamic people into the decision-making process. With these attempts and his rather gentle, soft-spoken personality, he gained an honorable reputation, although observers often wondered whether he had the political acumen and knowledge to affect the knotty problems of state faced by his mothers administration, like national integration and economic development.
The problem of national integration eventually catapulted Gandhi into the position of prime minister. within the northern state of Punjab demands by the predominant Sikh community had grown for more autonomy for the state, greater retention of the states resources, and solution of border problems with neighboring states and had combined with what could be termed Sikh ethnic and non secular revivalism. alittle group of so-called "extremists" held what the govt considered to be an untenable position on the difficulty of autonomy bordering on a involve complete independence. Talks between the govt and Sikh leaders faltered, violence erupted, and a few extremists were implicated within the murders of Punjab officialdom . Those accused and a few of their followers sought sanctuary within the Golden Temple, the foremost holy shrine of the Sikhs, within the city of Amritsar. They were protected essentially by the governments reluctance to violate holy places by sending within the police. The stalemate continued for about three years.
In the meantime, however, violence between various factions of the Sikh community escalated, and people hiding within the temple were accused of directing the murders of other Sikhs who disagreed with their position. Eventually the violence spread to the non-Sikh, primarily the Hindu population of Punjab. As it did, the govt decided it had to act. In June 1984 troops were sent into the temple complex. During the armed confrontation most of these within the temple were killed, and many others throughout the Punjab were arrested. The governments action shocked the Sikh community and threats were made against the lives of the prime minister and other high ranking officials. The threat against Gandhi was administered on October 31, 1984, when Sikh members of her own bodyguard assassinated her.
Becomes Prime Minister
Rajiv Gandhi was then chosen by his party as prime minister. General elections to Parliament which normally would are held in January 1985 were held one month early at the top of December 1984. The Congress (I) party won an awesome majority, securing 401 out of 508 contested seats. This was better than any previous electoral victory. Gandhi proved himself as a tireless and effective campaigner within the weeks preceding the election and was widely credited, along side an improved economy, with the partys success. His standing within the party was also improved by his denial of electoral districts to party members considered to be corrupt. In March 1985 elections were also held in 11 states for the states assemblies. Although the Congress (I) party didnt win altogether 11, it did win in eight, and again Gandhi was credited with the success. He refused to let numbers of corrupt politicians run on the Congress (I) ticket.
Yet observers were skeptical. Gandhi entered politics and have become prime minister as a results of his mothers death. Whether or not Gandhis instincts about public policy could catch up on a scarcity of experience remained to be seen. He seemed to be off to a promising start in 1985 by initiating new talks with the Sikhs and attempting to streamline and modernize the administration. However, the vexing problems with national integration and economic development were still of paramount concern. With only minor diplomatic successes, Sikh radicalism didnt cease during Gandhis term in office.
Under his 1986-1990 plan Gandhi launched India towards strong economic process by removing many restrictions on imports and inspiring foreign investment. Beyond this effort, Gandhi was seen as indecisive. Despite the firing of his mothers aides and surrounding himself with a constantly changing array of cabinet members, government corruption continued, including accusations that Gandhi and his party members were receiving kickbacks from a Bofors deal .
In the November 1989 elections a former Gandhi loyalist, Vishwanath Prata Singh, led a coalition to unseat the ruling party hurt by the various charges of corruption and incompetence. The Congress (I) party lost its majority and Gandhi was forced to resign as prime minister. Although displaced, Gandhis opposition to Singhs administration proved tireless. His determination to return to office inspired a campaign in 1991 that political analysts believed would end in an majority for Gandhi and his party. But he wouldnt resume his former position. On May 21, 1991, Gandhi was assassinated by a terrorist bomb while campaigning in Tamil Nadu . Tamil separatists claimed the killing was an act of revenge for Gandhis intervention within the Sri Lanka war of 1987.