Rajiv Gandhi (August 20, 1944 - May 21, 1991), son of Indira Gandhi, was Prime Minister of India from his mother's death on October 31, 1984 until his resignation on December 2, 1989 following general election defeat.
Initially preferring his career as an airline pilot, Rajiv was reluctant to enter politics until six months after the death in an air crash of his younger brother Sanjay, who had been seen as being groomed for the leadership of the governing Congress (I) Party.
Elected for Sanjay's Lok Sabha (parliamentary) constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh state in February 1981, Rajiv was chosen as prime minister by the party leadership within hours of his mother's assassination by two of her Sikh bodyguards. Two months later he won a landslide general election victim on the wave of populay sympathy at Indira's death.
During his tenure as the Prime Minister of India, he brought a certain dynamism to the premiership, which had always been occupied by older people. He was instrumental in greatly improving ties with the former USSR, and is credited with promoting the introduction of computers to India.
But his government became mired in the early stages of the protracted multi-million dollar Bofors scandal which involved alleged payoffs by the Swedish Bofors arms company through the Italian businessman and Gandhi family associate Ottavio Quattrocchi in return for Indian contracts. The controversy contributed to Congress's defeat at the November 1989 elections.
His government's military intervention (July 1987-March 1990) in the civil war between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil secessionists led to his death at the hands of Tamil Tiger militants (using a bomb hidden in a garland of flowers) while he was campaigning for re-election in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
His death brought the ailing Congress Party back into power at the 1991 general election on a similar wave of feeling as had followed his mother's killing.