Rajiv Gandhi was the elder brother of Sanjay Gandhi and after his death was inducted into the Congress party. He was initially reluctant to enter politics, but later relented and was prime minister from 1984-89.
Rajiv Gandhi was the first man who had leadership qualities and his aim was to project India as a power of standing. On 2 occasions he took steps that are like a dream now
a) Intervention in the Maldives. On a request from president Gyoom that an insurrection had taken place he ordered the Indian army to operate at a distance of over 1000 miles in theIndian Ocean.
As the giant ‘big bird’ euphuism for the IL 76 took off with Para troopers under Brigadier ‘Bull’ Balsara all of us felt proud that the Indian army was showing global reach. It had never happened before and this action put India in the ranks of countries with away operational capability.
People in the know at that time can vouchsafe that both Pakistan and China were alarmed at this demonstration of Indian army and air force capability.
The best part was that Rajiv Gandhi took the decision within 2 hours after consulting the Army Chief.
b) Intervention in Sri Lanka. It need not be debated whether his decision was right or wrong. We need to see it as a decision that carried an iron resolve behind him and the faith that India was a global power.
The operation in Sri Lankaof which was a part was a memorable example of the manifestation of air power and Indian army capability. The Indian army under Major General Harkirat Singh did not let Rajiv down and captured Jaffna and the LTTE ran helter skelter. More important it established India as a global player.
What must be remembered was that Rajiv Gandhi was the first and only Indian prime Minister who projected Indian power outside the shores of India. Look at the puny men who followed him like Dev Gowda, IK Gujral and Manmohan Singh, not forgetting Charan Singh and Rao ( he was sentenced to a 2 year jail term for bribing MP’s) and you will realize that Rajiv deserves mention as a great Indian who projected Indian power abroad. It was during his time that the heavy guns like the Bofors came to army and IL 76 was inducted into the IAF. Rajiv Gandhi saw to it that the Army and Air Force got more teeth.
Here was a man who in case he represented dynastic policies then it was good, for what matters is not dynasty but performance. In this Rajiv and Sanjay deserve mention as shining examples of Indian polity.