Rajiv Gandhi

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Rajiv Gandhi
Missing image
Rajiv Gandhi

Date of Birth: August 20, 1944
Date of Death: May 21, 1991
Place of Birth: Mumbai, MH
Prime Minister of India
Tenure Order: 6th Prime Minister
Political party: Congress (I)
Took Office: October 31, 1984
Left Office: December 2, 1989
Predecessor: Indira Gandhi
Successor: V. P. Singh

Rajiv Gandhi (राजीव गान्धी) (August 20, 1944May 21, 1991), the first son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the Prime Minister of India from his mother's death on October 31, 1984 until his resignation on December 2, 1989 following the general election defeat.



He attended The Doon School and Cambridge University (but did not receive degrees there). Initially preferring his career as an airline pilot, Rajiv was reluctant to enter politics until six months after the death in an air crash of his younger brother Sanjay, who had been seen as being groomed for the leadership of the governing Indian National Congress Party.

Prime Minister

Elected for Sanjay's Lok Sabha (parliamentary) constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh state in February 1981, Rajiv was chosen as prime minister by the party leadership within hours of his mother's assassination by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Some accuse him of not doing enough to stop the anti-Sikh riots which ensued. Commenting on the genocide, he said, "'When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes". Two months later he won a landslide general election on the wave of popular sympathy surrounding Indira's death.

During his tenure as Prime Minister of India, he brought a certain dynamism to the premiership, which had always been occupied by older people. He was instrumental in greatly improving ties with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and is credited with promoting the introduction of computers to India.

Bofors Scandal

But his government became mired in the early stages of the protracted multi-million dollar Bofors scandal which involved alleged payoffs by the Swedish Bofors arms company through the Italian businessman and Gandhi family associate Ottavio Quattrocchi in return for Indian contracts. The controversy contributed to the defeat of the Congress in the November 1989 elections.


Gandhi was assassinated, whilst campaigning in favour of a UCPI candidate for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Tamil Nadu, by the suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam A.K.A Dhanu. Dhanu is widely believed to be have been a LTTE member. In 1998 an Indian court convicted 26 people in the conspiracy to assassinate Gandhi. The conspirators, who consisted of Tamil militants from Sri Lanka and their Indian allies, had sought to stop Gandhi from getting elected in the then upcoming elections. They wanted to stop him from sending Indian troops into Sri Lanka as he had done in 1987 (when he survived an assassination attempt in Sri Lanka while inspecting the honor guard) to help enforce a peace accord. Those troops had ended up fighting the Tamil separatist guerrillas. His death brought the ailing Congress Party back into power in the 1991 general election on a similar wave of feeling as had followed his mother's assassination.


Missing image
Rajiv Gandhi, with his wife Sonia Gandhi

He is survived by his wife Sonia Gandhi and two children, Rahul and Priyanka Vadra. In 1998 Sonia Gandhi became the leader of the Congress Party, which won in the 2004 elections. She is one of the most powerful political personalities in India today.


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