Rajiv Gandhi

Rajiv Gandhi

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Rajiv Ratna Gandhi (August 20, 1944 – May 21, 1991), the eldest son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the 9th Prime Minister of India (and the 3rd from the Gandhi family) from his mother’s death on 31 October 1984 until his resignation. On December 2, 1989, following a general election defeat. Becoming the Prime Minister of India at the age of 40, he is the youngest person to date to hold that office.

Prime Minister

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi began leading in a direction significantly different from Indira Gandhi‘s socialism. He improved bilateral relations with the United States – long strained owing to Indira’s socialism and close friendship with the USSR. – And expanded economic and scientific cooperation. Similarly, He increased government support for science and technology and associated industries, and reduced import quotas, taxes, and tariffs on technology-based industries, especially computers, airlines, defense, and telecommunications.

He introduced measures significantly reducing the License Raj – allowing businesses and individuals to purchase capital, consumer goods and import without red-tape and bureaucratic restrictions.

Rajiv Gandhi

In 1986, Rajiv announced a national education policy to modernize and expand higher education programs across India.

Rajiv Gandhi was the founder of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya System in the year 1986.

Rajiv authorized an extensive police and Army campaign to contain terrorism in Punjab.

It is alleged that even as the situation in Punjab came under control, the Indian government offering arms and training to the LTTE rebels fighting the Government of Sri Lanka. The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord signed by Rajiv Gandhi. And the Sri Lankan President J.R.Jayewardene, in Colombo on July 29, 1987.

Bofors scandal

Rajiv’s finance minister, Vishwanath Pratap Singh uncovered compromising details about government and political corruption, to the consternation of Congress leaders.

Transferred to the Defence ministry, Singh uncovered what became known as the Bofors scandal, involving tens of millions of dollars – concerned alleged payoffs by the Swedish Bofors arms company through an Italian businessman and Gandhi family associate, Ottavio Quattrocchi, in return for Indian contracts.

Upon the uncovering of the scandal, Singh conspicuously dismissed from office, and later from Congress membership.

Rajiv Gandhi himself later personally implicated in the scandal. When the investigation continued by Narasimhan Ram and Chitra Subramaniam of The Hindu newspaper, shattering his image as an honest politician. However, he  cleared of this allegation in 2004.

Sri Lanka Policy

The Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord signed opposed by the then Sri Lankan Prime Minister Premadasa. And forced to accept it due to pressure from then-President Jayawardene, in January 1989 Premadasa was elected President and he demanded in that IPKF leave within 3 months. India was fighting the LTTE. This war was unpopular in India, in particular, Tamil Nadu. IPKF accused of human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Public opinion both in India and Sri Lanka and both Tamil and Sinhala were against Gandhi’s Sri Lanka policy.

Rajiv Gandhi refused to withdraw the IPKF in a situation. Which clearly pointed at the failure of his Sri Lanka policy both diplomatically and militarily. Rajiv believed that the only way he could succeed was to Politically force Premadasa and militarily force the LTTE to accept the accord. Meanwhile, in December 1989 Indian elections, V.P.Singh became the Prime Minister. And he saw that Rajiv ‘s Sri Lanka Policy was a miserable failure as the IPKF operation cost over 1100 Indian soldiers lives, over 5000 Shri Lankan Tamil lives and cost over 2000 crores and politically, diplomatically and militarily it was a statement.

Assassination

Rajiv Gandhi’s last public meeting was at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991, in a city close to Chennai. Where he assassinated while campaigning for the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha Congress candidate Mrs. Maragatham Chandrasekhar in Tamil Nadu. The assassination carried out by the LITE suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam also known as Dhanu.

Jain Commission and Other Reports

In the Jain report, various people and agencies named as suspected of having been involved in the murder of Rajiv Gandhi. Among them, the cleric Chandraswami suspected of involvement, including financing the assassination. One of the accused, Ranganath, said Chandraswami was the godfather who financed the killing. The interim report of the Jain Commission created a storm when it accused Karunanidhi. The Tamils of a role in the assassination, leading to Congress withdrawing Its support for the I. K. Gujral government and fresh elections in 1998. LTTE spokesman Anton  Balasingham told the Indian television channel NDTV. That the killing was a “great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy. Which we deeply regret.” A memorial christened Veer Bhumi constructed at his cremation spot.

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