Remembering Rajiv Gandhi & his contributions to Northeast India on his birth anniversary

Remembering Rajiv Gandhi & his contributions to Northeast India on his birth anniversary

TNT Desk | August 20, 2018

The youngest Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi has given much to the nation for it to fondly remember him. Rajiv Gandhi was the last member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to hold the position of Prime Minister in India. A reluctant entrant into the political arena, Gandhi barely had any interest in following the footsteps of his mother and grandfather. Circumstances, particularly those surrounding his brother, Sanjay Gandhi's death, however, necessitated his decision to enter politics.

On his 74th birth anniversary, we recall his major contributions to Northeast India as the youngest prime minister of India.

**In the first half of his tenure as prime minister, Gandhi had won remarkable peace deals in the Northeast Indian region, undoing the disastrous legacy of his own family and over-riding the interests of some of his own party men from the region. Gandhi's lasting legacy has been the Mizo peace accord, which brought the Mizo National Front (MNF) guerrillas to the electoral arena and led its chief Pu Laldenga to replace a Congressman as the chief minister of Mizoram. Mizoram since then has been the most peaceful state in the region.

**Rajiv Gandhi applied a similar strategy to end the six-year-long Assam agitation against infiltrators, signing a peace accord with student agitators, who went on to defeat the Congress in state assembly elections subsequently. The peace accord, however, failed to bring lasting peace. The Bodo movement flared up soon and was mishandled. The problem of illegal immigration was sought to be ignored.  According to the accord, foreigners who came to the state between 1951 and 1961 were given full citizenship but those who arrived there between 1961 and 1971 did not get right to vote for the next ten years. The same has now materialized in the form of recently published NRC in Assam that has left more than 40 lakh people in a dilemma with respect to their identity.

**Rajiv Gandhi's meeting with Li Lianqing, China's Ambassador to India in 1987, broke the ice in bilateral ties leading to his visit to Beijing, the first by an Indian Prime Minister in 34 years. Though Gandhi lost elections subsequently, successive Indian governments took more positive approach to improve ties with China after this visit. China had launched a media blitzkrieg similar to the one during Doklam where Indian troops intervened to stop Chinese from building a strategic road in area claimed by Bhutan, close to India's Chicken Neck corridor connecting North East.Status quo was restored in Sumdorongchu after about seven years of negotiations to stabilise the situation. The Dokalam standoff lasted 73 days.

Born on this day in 1944, Rajiv Gandhi served as the seventh Prime Minister of India from 1984 to 1989. He took to office after the 1984 assassination of his mother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He was the youngest Prime Minister of India at 40. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber in 1991 in Tamil Nadu's Sriperumbudur during an election campaigning.

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