Rajiv Gandhi, the eldest son of Feroze and Indira Gandhi, was born on August 20, 1944 and the youngest person to become the Prime Minister of India at the age of 40. He was India’s 9th Prime Minister and 3rd among the Gandhi family. He held his position after her mother’s death on October 31, 1984 until he resigned on December 2, 1989 after an election defeat. Though having no relationship to Mahatma Gandhi, his leadership brought substantial influence in India’s external political relationship. And even though his character was questioned in a controversial scandal which was actually served as his political downfall, he remained one of the respected Prime Minister of India. Rajiv Gandhi belonged to one of the famous political family in India. His grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was an Indian leader of independence and subsequently became the first Indian Prime Minister. Rajiv, together with his younger brother Sanjay, was raised in Delhi and Allahabad. He was educated at an exclusive school for boys at the Doon School and at the Welham Boy’s School then later sought education at a university in United Kingdom, University of London, University of Cambridge, and at the Imperial College London, but none of which had he received any degree. He met his wife, Sonia Maino at Cambridge, and though greatly opposed by Maino’s family they got married at India in 1969.
He began his career as a professional pilot for an Indian Airline even though her mother was India’s Prime Minister in 1966. He has no interest in politics and never lived with her mother at the Prime Minister’s residence in Delhi. His first child, Rahul, was born in 1970 followed by her daughter, Priyanka in 1972. Although he never exhibit great interest in politics at that time, his brother remained a close advisor and companion to their mother.
After his brother’s death in 1980, Rajiv was pressured to enter politics by Congress politician and his mother. He and his wife relentlessly opposed the idea of entering to politics and they even announced it publicly that he would not replace the vacant seat left by his brother. But to no avail he succumbed to the pressure and accepted a candidacy for a Parliamentary seat. At that time he was criticized by the press, opposition political parties, and the public as they saw a political dynasty was at inevitable.
In February 1981, he was elected at the parliament and became a constituent of Amethi in Uttar Prades. He then became an influential and an important advisor to his mother and became the president of the party youth wing which was the Youth Congress. Being close to the Prime Minister led the people to conceive that he might replace her mother at the proper time.
But fate was not on his mother’s side. On October 31, 1984 her mother was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards just as when Rajiv was at the West Bengal. India’s President Zail Singh and top leaders of the Congress reluctantly urged him to become India’s next Prime Minister just within hours of her mother’s death. Her mother’s assassination was related to an involvement in a series of domestic violence involving anti-Sikh riots which was attributed to more than 5,000 deaths and in the so- called “Operation Blue Star”. When Rajiv assumed office, he requested to the President to hold new and fresh elections thereby dissolving the Parliament as his current position was nearly in its final term. As this developed, he then became the President of the Congress.
The result of the election was a landslide victory in favor of the Congress party, owing mostly to the vast sympathy in the wake of his mother’s death. The majority win was the largest marginal victory in India’s political history giving Rajiv an absolute power over the government. His win was made convincing by the support of the youth sector and by his image projecting a non-corrupt, and machine politics background of a “Mr. Clean”. He revived and rejuvenated enthusiasm and hope amongst his...
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