Today is the birth anniversary of India’s former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. He became the prime minister during the infamous anti-Sikh genocide in which thousands of innocent Sikhs lost their lives. As we celebrate his 74th birthday let us discuss some facts about him.
He had an amazing talent to convert a bad situation into worse. Predecessors of Nehru-Gandhi family were infamous for their minority appeasement but Rajiv Gandhi took minority appeasement to a whole new unprecedented level. By opposing and reversing the Supreme Court’s judgment in Shah Bano case he opened a new can of worms. He denied a woman her right in order to appease a few sections of fundamental and radical Muslims. His decision laid the foundation of vote bank politics in India which is going on unabated till date. Rajiv Gandhi government also banned Salman Rushdie’s classic work – Satanic Verses. He poked his nose into each and every controversy and issue about which he was completely clueless. Fed up of his appeasement politics, the BJP started nationwide protests; he tried to checkmate them by ordering the removal of the locks of Ram Mandir. While the Hindus were happy with his decisions but it angered the Muslim community. The protests of Muslims against the opening of the doors of Ram Mandir led to more and more consolidation of Hindu votes and a nationwide Ram Mandir movement was launched with great enthusiasm which eventually culminating with the destruction of the disputed structure.
One after another political blunder committed by him led to the loss of several innocent lives. In order to portray himself as the custodian of secularism of India, he gave rise to such high-level communal politics which was never seen before in the history of Independent India.
His rule was marred with many other controversies and violence. His decision to send Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) backfired very badly. Rajiv Gandhi took such a big decision without even consulting his cabinet on IPKF; because of his one bad decision around 1,200 armed men lost their lives and many Tamils and Sinhalese also lost their lives. Rajiv Gandhi’s Sri Lanka policy and his mishandling of LTTE issue became the reason for his assassination.
Rajiv Gandhi messed up with Kashmir as well. It is widely believed that the Congress government blatantly encouraged rigging in the 1987 J&K state elections to favor its ally- National Conference. It is considered as one of the worst elections in the political history of Independent India. The people of the Kashmir valley were very disappointed with the government and their disappointment eventually led to the rise of Mujahideen in the Kashmir valley and marked the beginning of violent separatist movements. The elections gave rise to anti-India sentiments in the Kashmir valley. Pakistan caught the opportunity with both the hands to avenge the fiasco of East-Pakistan and provided fodder to the fuel in order to repeat Mukiti Vahini like episode in Kashmir.
Rajiv Gandhi’s response to the biggest Industrial disaster of the world, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, was nauseating. He let Warren Anderson, the key accused in Bhopal gas tragedy case, to escape from India very easily without any trial or punishment.
To conclude, Rajiv Gandhi can be considered as the most secular person of India. He messed up the situation for Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims alike without any discrimination. As if that was not enough, he went on to mess up the army as well and the entire country. His actions led to the crisis from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. He and his party paid the price for their horrific decisions in elections, the reminiscence of which can still be seen in the Indian politics. In 1989 general elections, people of the country voted out the Congress party out of power. It was a huge fall, the Congress party which won 404 seats in 1984 general elections managed to win only 197 seats in 1989 general elections; a fall of 207 seats, indeed a great debacle. It speaks volumes about his leadership skills and how much people loved his policies and the reason why he is considered to be the worst Prime Minister of India.