Much has been written about the Rajiv Gandhi’s brief foray on to the national stage. When he was sworn in as prime minister, Indian politics was tinted yellow by old-fashioned, normal bulbs but the reluctant entrant, who was thrown into the cesspool of ‘Indian Politics’ could not be the ‘white light.’
The first two years of his Prime ministership were decent if not great. He started out as an idealist, willing to bring changes and clean the country of casteism and communalism. Two accords (Punjab and Assam) are the examples. The face inherent in the initiative was that of a genuine peace-keeper and a leader keen to transform Indian lives. But sadly, Politics is not run by the ideals and idealists. He soon realised it and preferred to play it the traditional-congress way. India had lost a leader already!
He started looking at political gains eventually. Calling a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court’s decision in Shah Bano case and opening the gates of disputed Ram Mandir of Ayodhya in an attempt to appease the Hindus (Just) because he had pleased the muslims earlier, speak volumes about the cheap politics, he later got engaged in.
I remember him for the revolution he brought in country’s IT and telecom industry with MTNL and the introduction of fiscal policy for the first time. His underlying theme was modernism. He radically transformed the Panchayats and municipal bodies and brought employment and education policies. Indian industries went on a modernisation spree during his tenure. But the downside was growing budget deficits, mounting foreign debt and India becoming the fourth largest debtor-nation.
Controversies, disasters and scandals marred the belief of people in Rajiv Gandhi eventually. Bofors scandals shattered the clean image. The imbroglio of Bhopalwas another black mark in his career. Sending IPKF to Sri Lanka to mediate between the LTTE and Sri Lankan leaders only added to his troubles.
It is not worth looking at the personality or the merits or otherwise, but what’s worth is the impact of Rajiv Gandhi era. Talk about Indian IT industry in 2017. The foundation was laid during his tenure.