Even after 30 years after his untimely demise, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi continues to stay relevant in political discourse even today.
The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi called Rajiv Gandhi as ‘corrupt number 1’ during the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. There have been several corruption charges against Rajiv Gandhi even though he laid the foundation of modern India. At that time, at the age of 40, he was India’s youngest Prime Minister of India.
On the birth anniversary of the former Prime Minister, here are 4 controversies he ended being at the center of.
Shah Bano Case
In the year 1978, Shah Bano, a woman of Islamic faith who had five children was divorced by her husband. Following that, Shah Bano filed a criminal suit in the Supreme Court where she demanded maintenance. The Supreme Court, in its landmark judgment, ruled in her favor. This gave emergence to a perception among conservative Muslims that the apex court interfering in the faith’s personal law and orchestrated processions against the judgment. In order to calm the revolt down, Rajiv Gandhi overturned the decision.
Further, the Congress government passed the Muslim Women Act in 1986 where a woman gets the right to maintenance for the first three months after the divorce. This took away the basic right of Muslim women.
The second case was the controversial Ayodhya Ram Janmbhoomi case. While he was blamed for appeasing the minority Muslim community after the Shah Bano case, Rajiv Gandhi tried to repair the damage by ordering to remove the locks of the disputed land in Ayodhya allowing religious rites to be performed inside the structure. This, apparently, triggered the movement of Ram Mandir which led to massive riots in Northern India.
Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984
In 1984, when Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her own bodyguards, massive anti-Sikh riots took place in Delhi which was no less than a genocide. The establishment was complacent about the riots. After the riots, Rajiv Gandhi famously said,
“When a big tree falls, the earth shakes.”
This is by far the biggest corruption scam against Rajiv Gandhi and even Gandhi’s family. The Bofors scam involved millions of US dollars payoff by the Swedish company in exchange for Indian contracts. This led to a full-blown corruption case against Gandhi resulting in the defeat of the 1989 election.
Source: Free Press Journal