Today is what the INC calls Sabdhana Divas. The birthday of ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. While his legacy today has declined somewhat, he remains a Congress cipher, holding the record for the Congress’ greatest victory of 49.10% in 1984, In the wake of his mother, Indira Gandhi’s assassination. PM Modi remembered the occasion, earlier today on Twitter.
On his birth anniversary, tributes to former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi Ji.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 20, 2020
Despite the great political triumph, Rajiv Gandhi’s career was abounding with several controversial scams, scandals, riots, and eventually a violent assassination – reflecting his mother’s life. There were plenty of stories around the man that has been wrapped over the years. Let’s take a closer look:
1. He was a Commercial Pilot, But MIA In 1971 War
Right from the beginning, Rajiv Gandhi was reluctant towards the idea of being a politician. He also dropped out of college two times in his life. His passion at the time was aviation, something Rajiv inherited from his grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru. He gained a license from Delhi’s Flying Club. He worked as a pilot for Air India too.
During the war of 1971, many commercial pilots from India were recruited. Missing from the list of active pilots during this time was Rajiv Gandhi himself. Although he wasn’t in the line of danger, he chose to flee India with his family to Italy.
2. The Real Young Angry Man- Rajiv Gandhi
While the persona of Rajiv Gandhi has been that of a groomed statesman, there have been events of him losing his cool. Almost 40 years ago, he visited to Andhra Pradesh. The then CM, Tantuguri Anjaiah, had come along with a huge crowd of party fans, in order to receive him. On seeing the crowd, Gandhi scolded the CM, calling him a “buffoon” in front of his supporters, going so far as to make the man tearful in shame.
3.The “Vacation” Controversies
There’s a long history of issues with Rajiv Gandhi. One of the less serious, yet odd controversies revolve around the PM’s affinity for taking family and friends on holidays – something PM Modi highlighted in May 2019.
Allegedly, Gandhi decided to use the INS Viraat aircraft carrier to take a holiday around the Lakshadweep islands. Everything from food to cooks and valets was airlifted in. The occasion? It was New Years’ season.
4. The love of Rajiv Gandhi for driving
One of the more modern facts about PM Rajiv Gandhi was his affection for driving. Unlike other statesmen, he would routinely drive himself, even during election campaigns. According to journalist Suman Chattopadhyay, “He drove like a Grand Prix driver on the state roads, sanitized well in advance by the security forces.”
5. Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi and his Camera
An anthology of years of photographs that Sonia Gandhi, had put together as part of a photo book was named Rajiv’s World.
“Rajiv’s photography was to him a source of immense pleasure and satisfaction. He shared this interest enthusiastically with his family and a few close friends. He made enlargements of photographs he liked particularly, and these he had framed and carefully arranged on the walls of his study,” she recalled fondly.