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Rajiv Gandhi Biography - Rajiv Gandhi Life & Profile

 Rajiv Ratna Gandhi  was the seventh Prime Minister of India, serving from 1984 to 1989. He took office after the 1984 assassination of his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, to become the youngest Indian Prime Minister.

Gandhi was a scion of the politically powerful Nehru–Gandhi family, which had been associated with the Indian National Congress party. For much of his childhood his maternal grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was Prime Minister. Gandhi attended college in the United Kingdom, where he met and began dating Antonia Maino, an Italian waitress. He returned to India in 1966 and became a professional pilot for the state-owned Indian Airlines. In 1968, he married Maino—who changed her name to Sonia Gandhi—and the couple settled in Delhi to a domestic life with their children Rahul and Priyanka. For much of the 1970s, his mother was prime minister and his brother Sanjay (earlier Sanjiv) wielded significant, unofficial power; despite this, Gandhi remained apolitical. After Sanjay's death in an aeroplane crash in 1980, Gandhi reluctantly entered politics at the behest of Indira. The following year he won his brother's Parliamentary seat Amethi and became a member of the Lok Sabha—the lower house of India's Parliament. As part of his political grooming, Rajiv was made a general secretary of the Congress and given significant responsibility in organising the 1982 Asian Games.
 On the morning of 31 October 1984, his mother was assassinated by her bodyguards to avenge Operation Blue Star; later that day, Gandhi was appointed Prime Minister, even though Pranab Mukherjee and P V Narasimha Rao were more politically experienced and were senior members of the party. Gandhi's leadership was tested over the next few days as organised mobs rioted against the Sikh community, resulting in the deaths of thousands in Delhi alone. That December, a nationwide sympathy vote for the Congress party helped it win its largest-ever Lok Sabha majority—411 seats out of 542.

Rajiv Gandhi's period in office was mired in controversy; the Bhopal disaster and the Shah Bano case. In 1988, he reversed the coup in Maldives, antagonising militant Tamil groups such as PLOTE, intervening and then sending Indian Peace Keeping Force troops to Sri Lanka in 1987, leading to open conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In mid-1987, the Bofors scandal damaged his corruption-free image and resulted in a major defeat for his party in the 1989 elections.

Gandhi remained Congress President until the elections in 1991. While campaigning for the elections, he was assassinated by a suicide bomber from the LTTE. His widow Sonia became the president of Congress party in 1998, and led the party to victory in the 2004 and 2009 parliament elections. His son Rahul is a Member of Parliament and Vice President of the Congress. In 1991, the Indian government posthumously awarded Gandhi the Bharat Ratna, the country's highest civilian award.
 Gandhi was born in Mumbai on 20 August 1944 to Indira and Feroze Gandhi. He has named Rajiv after his maternal grandmother, Kamala Nehru; "Kamala" refers to Lakshmi and "Rajiv" means lotus; the name was kept because lotus is used to worship the goddess.  On 14 August 1946, Rajiv's younger brother Sanjay Gandhi was born in Delhi. 

In 1951, Rajiv and Sanjay were admitted to Shiv Niketan school, where the teachers said Rajiv was shy and introverte, and "greatly enjoyed painting and drawing".  At the age of six, he underwent surgery on his tonsils.[4] He was admitted to the Doon School in 1954, where Sanjay joined him two years later.  Rajiv was sent to London in 1961 to study A-levels. In 1962, he was offered a place at Trinity College, Cambridge, to study engineering. Rajiv stayed at Cambridge until 1965, but did not finish his degree. 

Gandhi returned to India in 1966, the year his mother became Prime Minister. He went to Delhi and became a member of the Flying Club, where he was trained as a pilot. In 1970, he was employed as a pilot by Air India; unlike Sanjay, he did not exhibit any interest of joining politics.[7] In 1968, after three years of courtship, he married Italian Edvige Antonia Albina Màino, who changed her name to Sonia Gandhi. Their first child, a son, Rahul Gandhi was born in 1970. In 1972, the couple had a daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, who married Robert Vadra. 
 Rajiv Gandhi's younger brother Sanjay died in an aeroplane crash on 23 June 1980.  At that time, Rajiv Gandhi was in London as part of his foreign tour. Hearing the news, he returned to Delhi and the following day he creamated Sanjay's body. In the week foillowing Sanjay's death, Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand, a saint from Badrinath, visited the family's house to offer his condolensces.  He advised Rajiv not to fly aeroplanes and instead "dedicate himself to the service of the nation".  70 members of the Congress party signed a proposal and went to Indira, urging Rajiv to enter politics. Indira told them it was Rajiv's decision whether to enter politics. When he was questioned about it, he replied, "If my mother gets help from it, then I will enter politics". Rajiv entered politics on 16 February 1981, when he addressed a national farmers' rally in Delhi that according to party sources was attended by 50 lakh farmers.  During this time, he was still an employee of Air India. 
 Rajiv Gandhi was in West Bengal on 31 October 1984 when his mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, to avenge the military attack on the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star. Sardar Buta Singh and President Zail Singh pressed Rajiv to succeed his mother as Prime Minister within hours of her murder. Commenting on the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, Rajiv Gandhi said, "When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes";   a statement for which he was widely criticized. Many Congress politicians were accused of orchestrating the violence. 

Soon after assuming office, Gandhi asked President Singh to dissolve Parliament and hold fresh elections, as the Lok Sabha had completed its five-year term. Gandhi officially became the President of the Congress party, which won a "landslide victory" with the largest majority in history of the Indian Parliament, giving Gandhi absolute control of government. He benefited from his youth and a general perception of being free of a background in corrupt politics.  Gandhi took his oath on 31 December 1984; at 40, he was the youngest Prime Minister of India.  Historian Meena Agarwal writes that even after taking the Prime Ministerial oath, he was a relaitvely unknown figure, "novice in politics" as he assumed the post after being an MP for 3 years.

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