Rajiv Gandhi राजीव गाधी, the elder son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the 7th Prime Minister of India (and the 3rd from the Nehru-Gandhi family) from his mothers death on 31 October 1984 until his resignation on 2 December 1989 following a general election defeat. He was the youngest Prime Minister of India (at the age of 40).
Rajiv Gandhi was a professional pilot for Indian Airlines (now Air India) before entering politics. While at Cambridge, he met Italian-born Sonia Maino Sonia Maino who he later married. He remained aloof from politics despite his mother being the Indian Prime Minister, and it was only following the death of his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi in 1980 that Rajiv entered politics. After the assassination of his mother in 1984 after Operation Blue Sky, Indian National Congress party leaders elected him Prime Minister.
Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to a major election victory in 1984 soon after, amassing the largest majority ever in Indian Parliament. The Congress party won 411 seats out of 542. He began dismantling the License Raj - government quotas, tariffs and permit regulations on economic activity - modernized the telecommunications industry, the education system, expanded science and technology initiatives and improved relations with the United States. He also was responsible for sending Indian troops (Indian Peace Keeping Force or IPKF) for peace efforts in Sri Lanka, which soon ended in open conflict with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In mid-1987, the Bofors scandal broke his honest, corruption-free image and resulted in a major defeat for his party in the 1989 elections.
Rajiv Gandhi remained congress President till the elections in 1991. While campaigning, he was assassinated by a female LTTE suicide bomber Thenmuli Rajaratnam. His widow Sonia Gandhi became the leader of the Congress party in 1998, and led the party to victory in the 2004 elections. His son Rahul Gandhi is a Member of Parliament.
Rajiv Gandhi was posthomously awarded the Highest National Award of India, Bharat Ratna, joining a list of 40 luminaries, including Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
As a religious leader, he (like his mother and other family elders) "served as Acharya" of his family Gurudevs (Rabindranath Tagore) Adi Dharm Ashram (and Brahmo Mandir) in Viswa-Bharati at Shantiniketan (West Bengal) for about 5 years
He converted to Christianity to marry Catholic Italian Sonia Miano. He became prime minister in 1984 after Indira was assassinated by her own bodyguards. He ruled the country for 5 years from 1984 to 1989. The Nehru- (Khan)-Gandhi dynasty ended as Sonia, declined to accept the power, after Rajiv was assassinated in 1991. (The non-charismatic non-leaders of Congress (I) party handed over the reins of the party to reluctant Sonia, who now leads the Congress party and soon will lead the Indian Union).
Daughter of Stefano (d.1983) and Paola Maino,
1. Rahul GANDHI, b.19 June 1970,
2. Priyanka GANDHI, b.1972,
Sonia Maino was born on 9 December 1946 in the town of Orbassano, near Turin. She was taking classes to learn English in England when she met her future husband, Rajiv Gandhi, who was studying engineering at the university. Her sister, Nadia Mario, reached New Delhi, after Vajpayee govt. fell, to be by her side amidst reports that she might soon become Indias prime minister. She officially took charge of the Congress party in 1998 and was elected to parliament in elections in 1999. Before the surprise 2004 election win, Mrs Gandhis future in Indian politics had looked somewhat uncertain.
An influential person in Indian politics, she was named the third most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in the year 2004 and was ranked 6th in 2007. She was also named among the Time 100 most influential people in the world for the years 2007 and 2008.