Rajiv Ratna Gandhi (August 20, 1944 – May 21, 1991), the eldest son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the 6th Prime Minister of India (and the 3rd from their 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.
Rajiv Gandhi worked as a professional pilot for Indian Airlines before coming into politics. He was married to Sonia Maino, an Italian national he had met while he was in Cambridge, UK. 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 was convinced to enter politics. Upon the assassination of his mother in 1984, Congress party leaders convinced him to become the new Prime Minister. Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to a major election victory in 1984 soon after, amassing the largest majority in Parliament. He had the public image of being young, modern and Mr. Clean - an honest leader free of machine politics and corruption. 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 for peace efforts in Sri Lanka, which soon ended in open conflict with the LTTE, forcing Rajiv to pull Indian forces out. 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 the Congress leader till the elections in 1991. He was assassinated while campaigning, by a female suicide bomber who sought revenge for his intervention against the LTTE. His Italian-born 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.
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