Rajiv became the fifth Prime Minister of India in 1984 after the murder of his mother India Gandhi. He had no political experience, he was an airline pilot when he had been inducted by the party as a dynastic succession. It was a generational change in many ways. He was in his forties and grew up in independent India.Rajiv disappointed right at the start when refused to intervene in the anti-Sikh Riots that broke out in Delhi and Kanpur after his mothers murder by his Sikh body guards. His statement that “When a big tree falls, many people are crushed” was a dog whistle message to Congress goons to carry on.
He, nevertheless, won Parliamentary elections of 1984 with a biggest majority ever. There was, however, no policy change to speak of, on the economic front. He talked about taking India to the 21st century but his policies were same as his mothers.
His reversal of Shah Bano judgement by the courts led to set up of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, that made Muslim not subject to Indian Civil law. A non-elected body of Muslim men, and not the Indian Parliament, sets the Muslim personal law now and they are not subject to a review by the supreme court. This has had terrible consequences for Muslim Women of India. India’s Muslim personal law is most retrograde for women in the world.
His interference in the Kashmir elections alienated the population and gave Pakistan an opening to start the Jihadi activities in the Srinagar Valley in 1989.
His unlocking of the Babri Masjid in 1985 let the communal genie out of the bottle. This gave the VHP an opportunity to start the “Ram Mandir” campaign. In many ways, Rajiv is responsible for the Hindutva, which was a blow-back for his pandering for Muslim votes.
Rajiv’s capricious sacking of his foreign secretary on the tarmac of the Delhi airport and his ” Nani Yaad Dilange” message to Benazir Bhutto showed his immaturity.
He was soon mired in the Bofors scandal that hobbled rest of his premiership.
He was ejected by the electorate in 1989. That was a disgraceful fall, after winning 80% seats in the Parliament in 1984 elections.
Rajiv’s years were a wasted opportunity for India. Deng Xiaoping was transforming China while Rajiv was fiddling!
I rate him 3 on a scale of ten, slightly ahead of Indira Gandhi.