- Category : Politics-Heads-of-state
- Type : GE
- Profile : 3/5 - Martyr / Heretic
- Definition : Split - Large
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Contagion 3
Indian politician and noted family, the eldest son of Indira Gandhi. After dropping out of Cambridge, he worked as a pilot for the notoriously incompetent Indian airlines, where he was known as a stickler for accuracy. He was encouraged by his mom to enter politics in 1981 after the death by plane crash in 1980 of her second son, Sanjay, who had been politically involved. Rajiv rose meteorically to the number two position in Congress by doing a credible job improving Indian economy by helping reduce government regulations on business.
Rajiv had met a young Italian woman while he was in Cambridge, in January 1965, Sonia Maino. They married on 2/25/1968 and had two kids.
Gandhi became P.M. on 10/31/1984, taking over his mom's role immediately after her assassination. By 1987, he was struggling against a tide of corruption, scandals, local-election defeats, the defection of ministers and worsening communal violence. Though initially full of optimism, he was utterly unfitted for the job and soon squandered the political capital that had been invested in him, manipulating India's communal agenda and getting involved militarily in the neighboring island is Sri Lanka. Nehru's idealism became mired in the hard world of 1980s India. Bribery and kickbacks on government contracts became routine, although the extent to which Rajiv himself profited is still strongly debated. What is certain is that he turned a blind eye to corruption and injustice among his colleagues. Arms trades were a recorded matter, as well as millions of dollars in government commissions on five overseas accounts, plus a sixth account that has never been identified. Their enemies claimed that Sonia was the beneficiary.
Rajiv lost power in 1989 and returned to the campaign trail for the 1991 general election, reinventing himself as a man of the people and admitting to past mistakes. On 5/21/91, while he was campaigning, he stepped from his car at Sriperumbudar and received a sandalwood garland from a young woman called Dhanu, a Tamil Tiger terrorist set on avenging Rajiv's military escapade in Sri Lanka. She was wearing a long orange salwar kameez and beneath its vest, she was packed with RDX plastic explosive and metal pellets. As she bent down to touch his feet in homage, he stopped and bowed slightly above her, and at 10:20 PM, she pressed a toggle switch on her belt, and 28 people died.
An eyewitness recalled, "It looked like a red flower unfolding in slow motion and then I felt the shock waves and smelt the RDX." Among the tangled mass of bodies, Rajiv had been ripped apart, his insides torn out and part of his skull blown off.
His widow, Sonia, was offered the role of party leader, but she resisted, withdrawing from public life to mourn and raise their two children. On 3/14/1998 Sonia Gandhi was elected president of India's Congress Party, defying Indians who had said that she was not fit to head the organization that led India to Independence 50 years before. Her election reaffirmed the family dynasty that has dominated the party since the days of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first post-independence prime minister.