Rajiv Gandhi is India’s youngest Prime Minister to date. He took charge in 1984 after his mother, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was murdered by her bodyguards. At the time, he was 40. August 20, 2021 marks the 77th birthday of Rajiv Gandhi. Unlike his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, a pilot, stayed away from politics for the most part. His passion was flying.
Rajiv Gandhi studied at the Welham Boys’ Preparatory School in Dehradun before moving to the residential Doon School. Later he was joined there by his brother, Sanjay Gandhi. After graduating from school, Rajiv Gandhi attended Trinity College, Cambridge. Shortly afterwards, however, he transferred to Imperial College (London), but was unable to complete the course. On his return to India, Rajiv Gandhi obtained a commercial pilot license from the Delhi Flying Club and became a pilot with Indian Airlines.
Story behind his name
Rajiv Gandhi’s name pays tribute to his maternal grandmother, Kamala Nehru, wife of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The word “Kamala” means Goddess Laxmi. While the word Rajiv means Kamal (lotus), the flower used to worship the deity.
Before his brother’s death in 1980 forced Rajiv Gandhi into politics, he had been a commercial pilot with Indian Airlines for 10 years. After the death of Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi contested and won his first election from Amethi, a seat that represented his brother in parliament. Rajiv Gandhi’s son and former Congress Speaker Rahul Gandhi also successfully fought three times from the same constituency before losing to Smriti Irani of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
coming to power
Rajiv Gandhi became not only the prime minister but also the chairman of the Congress party after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. That same year, the Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi won an overwhelming majority of 414 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, which is still becoming a record for the highest number of seats ever won by a single party.
In May 1991 Rajiv Gandhi campaigned for the general election. During a rally in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu, he was killed by a suicide bomber from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).