Gandhi, Rajiv

Gandhi, Rajiv gänˈdē, räjēvˈ [key], 1944–91, prime minister of India (1984–89). Oldest son of Indira Gandhi, he flew for Indian Airlines until his brother died in 1981 and he was drafted into politics by his mother. He was elected to parliament and when his mother, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated in 1984 he succeeded her as prime minister, leading the Congress party (see Indian National Congress) to a sweeping election victory. His government encouraged foreign investment, and industry boomed with the loosening of business controls. In 1987 he sent Indian peacekeeping forces to Sri Lanka in an unsuccessful attempt to mediate an end to Tamil-Sinhalese violence there. Allegations of corruption and arrogance diminished Gandhi's popularity, and in 1989 he resigned as prime minister when the Congress party lost its parliamentary majority. He was assassinated by Tamil separatists in 1991. In 1999, Gandhi was posthumously charged with participating in a kickback scheme in a 1989 arms deal, but the charges against him were quashed in 2004. He was married to Sonia Gandhi; Rahul Gandhi is their son.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: South Asian History: Biographies