Rajiv Ratna Gandhi (20 August 1944 – 21 May 1991) was an Indian politician who worked as the 6th Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. He got the office after the 1984 assassination of his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to become the youngest Indian Prime Minister at the age of 40.
Early life and family
Rajiv Gandhi was born on 20 August 1944 in Mumbai into the most important and influential political family of the country. Jawaharlal Nehru was his maternal grandfather, who was the first Prime Minister of India and a path of Mahatma Gandhi in the freedom struggle. Feroze Gandhi, his father, was a young member of the INC and met Indira and her mother Kamala Nehru in Allahabad and befriended them while working for the party and later married Indira Gandhi. After Independence, the family settled in Lucknow and Feroze Gandhi started serving as an editor of a newspaper called National Herald that was founded by Motilal Nehru. Rajiv Gandhi later moved with his mother and younger brother to their grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru’s house in 1949. Relations between his parents strained gradually and further deteriorated when Feroze Gandhi challenged corruption within the party leadership over the scandal of Haridas Mundra. The family reconciled after Feroze Gandhi gone a heart attack in 1958.
Rajiv Gandhi accomplished his schooling from the Welham Boys’ School and the Doon School in Dehradun. Further, in 1961, he went to London to study A-levels. He then joined Trinity College of Cambridge for an engineering course but did not finish the degree course and left in 1965. He then joined Imperial College in London in 1966 but left the place a year later without the degree. He started serving as a professional pilot for Indian Airlines. He married Sonia Gandhi in 1968, who was originally an Italian and employed as a waitress in the Varsity Restaurant, a Greek restaurant in the city of Cambridge. They blessed with their first child Rahul Gandhi in 1970 and their Second child Priyanka Gandhi in 1972.
Currently, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are members of the 15th Lok Sabha and Sonia Gandhi is the President while Rahul Gandhi is the Vice-President of the Indian National Congress.
Rajiv Gandhi’s younger brother Sanjay Gandhi’s sudden demise in a plane crash in 1980 led him to join politics. Rajiv Gandhi reluctantly came in Indian politics at the behest of his mother, the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, and pressure from the Congress party. Both he and his wife were opposed to the idea of his coming in politics but he eventually declared his candidature from Amethi, which was Sanjay Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency. He had victory over Sharad Yadav and was made the General Secretary of the Congress, which would serve as his grooming process. His best friend the then Sports Minister Sardar Buta Singh was the President of the committee. He later became the President of the youth wing of the party, the Youth Congress.
On 31 October 1984, while Rajiv Gandhi was in West Bengal, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two bodyguards in the garden of her official residence, at 1, Safdarjung Road at New Delhi while she was passing the wicket gate guarded by them. The bodyguards namely Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, after shooting her, dropped their weapons and surrendered. Beant Singh was shot to death on that day while Kehar Singh was arrested for his involving in the conspiracy. He and Satwant Singh were given death sentence and hanged at the Tihar Jail at Delhi. Within few time of the assassination, the then President Zail Singh and Union Minister and a senior leader of the Congress party Sardar Buta Singh convinced him to become the new Prime Minister of India. After he assumed office, Rajiv Gandhi asked Zail Singh to hold new elections and dissolve the Parliament as the Lower House completed a five-year term. The history of the Indian Parliament saw a landslide victory for the party, which gave Rajiv Gandhi full power of government. Rajiv also became the President of the Congress party.