Rajiv Gandhi was born in one of the most prominent political families of India. He became the third generation in his family to become the Prime Minister of India – after his maternal grandfather, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and mother Smt. Indira Gandhi. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India at the age of 40.
In fact, his anti-corruption and nepotism stance earned him the nickname “Mr Clean”. But, on 21 May 1991, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a public meeting while campaigning for Sriperumbudur, a Lok Sabha Congress candidate. A woman approached Gandhi, bent down to touch his feet and exploded a bomb, which was placed under her dress. Congress leader Rajiv Gandhi was known to take on BJP leaders sharply in Parliament. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is still remembered by now Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi, whether it be his speeches in Parliament or while addressing public rallies, he has on a few occasions bought up Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministerial term and slammed him for the same.
Here are some instances when PM Narendra Modi ‘remembered’ Rajiv Gandhi:
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 3, 2016, reached out to the opposition for its support to run the government smoothly and invoked late Congress stalwarts and Prime ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi for peaceful functioning of Parliament. In his over an hour-long speech, Modi, however, didn’t speak about raging issues like a crackdown on Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students and death of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula in Hyderabad University that had stalled parliament for two days earlier this week. Modi said, winding up the discussion in the Lok Sabha, “Parliament is a forum where different viewpoints are put forward, where questions are being asked to the government, where the government is made accountable and nobody is spared. And in doing so, it would be great if we uphold parliamentary traditions and let the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha function peacefully and responsibly.” Modi said “House is a place where debates are to take place, but if boundaries are maintained during a debate then it is fruitful. This is what Rajiv Gandhi said. We should listen to elders.”
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 5, 2017, invoked former PM Rajiv Gandhi’s ‘15 paise’ remark to take a dig at the Congress during an election rally in Himachal Pradesh. Taking pot-shots at Rajiv Gandhi’s 1985 statement that Re 1 ends up as 15 paise when it reaches villages, Modi said, “Rajiv was such a doctor who diagnosed the problem of corruption, but did not do anything about it. He has made sure that the whole of 100 paise now goes to the pockets of the poor.”
- In the fiery speech delivered in Parliament on February 7, 2018, PM Modi asked “Your party’s Chief Minister, a schedule caste Chief Minister had come to the airport to receive Rajiv Gandhi. He was openly insulted (as) an elected chief minister of a state. And you talk about democracy?”. As per reports, in 1982, Rajiv Gandhi screamed at then-Chief Minister of Andhra Tantuguru Anjaiah at the Hyderabad Begumpet airport.
- In August 2018, while talking on Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft list. Prime Minister Narendra Modi his first public remarks on the NRC issue, said, “The roots of the NRC go back three decades, when Rajiv Gandhi had to bow to public pressure and sign the Assam Accord. Since then, Assam voted the Congress several times but the party did nothing about it and kept misleading the people. The Congress knew a problem exists but allowed it to fester for decades because they were guided by vote-bank politics.”
- On August 12, 2018 in an interview to news agency ANI, while talking about caste-based reservations, he said “Look across the length and breadth of India, maximum MPs from SC, ST and OBC communities are from BJP. Maximum MLAs from SC, ST and OBC communities are from BJP. I would request you all to see the kind of things our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said about the Mandal Commission. On the floor of the Parliament he opposed it tooth and nail. The situation in his party is no different today.”