Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


Bharata Ratna for Rajiv ( Ratna* ) Gandhi ( born 20 Aug 1944 in Bombay died 21 May 1991)

Dt: 24/8/22

Bharata Ratna for Rajiv ( Ratna* ) Gandhi

( born 20 Aug 1944 in Bombay  died 21 May 1991)


Dr T.H. Chowdary*

Chief Ministers of Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh (the only two Congress ruled states) S.S. Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel  respectively announced a  number of  new schemes named after Rajiv Gandhi ,  the third in a family of Bharata Ratnas, on his  78th  birth anniversary on 20 Aug 2022. The day is observed as Sadhbhavana Divas.  Some names of schemes  named after him  are : Rajiv Gandhi  Kisan Nyay Yojana, Rajiv Gandhi   Grameena Bhumi Heena Krish Majdoor  Nyay Yojan, Rajiv Yuva Mitan Clubs ( 13,269), Rajiv Godhan Nyay Yojana,  all in Chhattisgarh and  Rajiv Gandhi Center of Advanced Technology in Rajasthan. It is known that by the end of Sonia- led UPA  Central government in 2014 there were over 400 Nehru-Indira-Rajiv named schemes , institutes , facilities etc., in India.  Nowhere else in the world are  members of one family celebrated  as those  of Nehru . Nehru & Indira  his daughter were awarded Bharata Ratna during their life time (1955 and 1971 respectively); Rajiv the grandson of Nehru was awarded Bharata Ratna in  1991 soon after his assassination in May 1991.


2. Did Rajiv Ratna Gandhi  deserve the  Bharata Ratna award ? Let us see the  record:


a)      After the death of Sanjay Gandhi in an air accident in June 1980,  mother Indiraji    wanted  the elder son Rajiv  by her side in her  political and prime ministerial  roles.   He was asked to resign his pilot’s job in Air India to take up this new role. After a few months he was made the General Secretary of the Congress.  On the assassination of Indira ji on 31  Oct 1984, Rajiv Gandhi was sworn  by the  President as the Prime Minister. The Congress  parliamentary party  later endorsed Rajiv’s appointment as the Prime Minister.  

* The name given to Rajiv at his birth. Ratna was later dropped .



When India got independence in Aug 1947 the Commander-in-chief  of the Indian Armed Forces was  an Englishman Gen. Bucher. When Nehru was asked as to why  he was retaining an Englishman   as  Chief of Army and not appointing Gen. Cariappa, the Indian in his place  Pt. Nehru said that   Cariappa did not have enough experience to become the Chief of  Army staff. On hearing  the remarks of Nehru, Gen. Cariappa responded :    what experience has Jawaharlal Nehru to become the Prime Minister of free India?”.   This remark of Gen Cariappa   aptly  applies  to the assumption of the  Prime Ministership of India by  a novice in politics, that is, Rajiv Gandhi .


c)      The failures of  Rajiv Gandhi are far too serious to merit the Bharata Ratna award. Let us recall some of them:


·         It was during his time that the Bofors scandal erupted.  As per the Swedish radio bribes were given so that the Bofors got the order. It was such a scandal   that even  if  it could not be proved that  Rajiv Gandhi or the Congress party  or any member of Rajiv’s  family received the bribes, it was  more than clear  that  Quattrocchi an Italian  family friend of  Sonia  Gandhi  was involved and the suspicion was that Sonia’s family in Italy  benefitted by the  Bofors deal.  All over India there was the  slogan , “gali gali mein shor hai ; Rajiv Gandhi chor hai”.  Despite Rajiv Gandhi’s forceful denials the nation believed that  bribes were received by those   in the inner circle of  Rajiv Gandhi’s family . The scandal led to the  down fall of the  Congress party which was  defeated  in 1989 general elections .


·         Sri Rajiv Gandhi,  audaciously  sent the Indian  Peace Keeping Force ( IPKF) to Sri Lanka ostensibly to put down the  insurgency of the LTTE against the  Sri Lankan government and to protect the  Sri Lankan government from the LTTE. This was a misadventure , in that ultimately  the IPKF had to be withdrawn in disgrace,  condemned by the  LTTE and disowned by the  Sri Lankan government. Quite a number of   precious lives of the Indian armed forces were  lost in this mis-adventure. 


·         In another show of India’s might, Rajiv Gandhi’s government imposed  a blockade  of  exchange of goods  between  India and Nepal that drove Nepal into the   arms of China,  leading to alienation of the Hindu nation, Nepal from India.



·         The Supreme Court of India  in the  Sha Bano ( a Muslim divorcee) case held  that a Muslim woman divorcee was entitled to receive  alimony.  The entire  Muslim  clergy and their political backers denounced this judgement, holding it as subversion of Muslim personal law . Rajiv Gandhi first encouraged  his minister Md Arif Khan  to defend the Supreme Court decision  as befitting a secular India . But  soon after, frightened by the prospect of losing  the Muslim vote,  he ignominiously got legislation passed to annul the Supreme Court decision   to please Muslim electorate.



·         The most ignominious episode  is his  inaction  when  in the  aftermath of Indira ji’s assassination, under the  leadership of Congressmen,  Sikhs were slaughtered in and around Delhi   in an orgy which lasted for a few days  with no action  taken by the  Prime Minister while the massacre was going  right under his nose.   Worse,  at a boat club rally 19 days after assassination  of Indira Gandhi,  Rajiv  speaking about  the  massacre of the Sikhs said ,  some riots took place  in the country following the murder of Indiraji .   We know the people were angry and  for a few days that India had been shaken .  When a mighty tree falls ,  it is only natural that the  earth around it shakes”.   A Congers party  colleague Sri Mani Shankar Iyar  wondered  whether  this observation of Rajiv Gandhi was an endorsement of the   killing of thousands of Sikhs as retribution for  his mother’s assassination by a Sikh body guard. 


·         In the  1989 general elections  to the   Lok Sabha,  Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress party was roundly defeated. There was the  ramshackle  V.P Singh government  supported  from  outside by the BJP. Then that government collapsed  due to   internal  contradictions in the Janata Dal led by V.P Singh and undermined by Devilal. Rajiv Gandhi encouraged a faction of the Janata Dal led by Sri Chandra Sekhar  to form a minority government  with about  40 MPs of the   Janata Dal  supported by Rajiv Gandhi’s party from outside.  Just as his mother Indira Gandhi   encouraged  Charan Singh to become the Prime Minister by splitting the   Janata Dal  in 1979, Rajiv Gandhi encouraged Chandrasekhar to split the Janatadal and form a minority government of  just about  50  supporting him and  Rajiv Gandhi Congress  supporting from outside. After a few weeks, just as Indira Gandhi pulled down Charan Singhs’ government, Rajiv Gandhi pulled down  Chandrasekhar’s government  and then the country had to go in for another general   election to the Lok Sabha. During the campaign Sri Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated on 21 May 1991  by an operative of the  LTTE  for the suppression of which he sent the IPKF to Sri Lanka.


3.      With this record which was   positively  unbefitting of  a Prime Minister of  India, Rajiv Gandhi  least deserved the highest honour that the Republic  of India bestows namely,  Bharata Ratna.


4.      Under the influence  Sri P V Narasimha Rao who  not only restored   the fortunes of the Congress by  forming a Congress government though it had only 220 and  odd MPs , most deserved  the Bharata Ratna for   the bold decision he had taken to end permit-license- quota,  a Nehruvian socialism and   liberalizing the Indian economy   the result of which  has been  an economic upsurge in the country.  Under the influence of  Rajiv’s widow,  Sonia   P V Narasimha Rao was not given Bharata Ratna, which  he deserved  more than Rajiv Gandhi and  some others who got it.  It is  most appropriate if Prime Minister Modi recommends to the  President that the highest honour  Bharata Ratna be bestowed upon  Sri P.V.Narasimha Rao,  posthumously though.


5.      That Rajiv Gandhi was responsible for I.T revolution in India is largely untrue and is merely propaganda. Although it may not be relished,  one fact  requires to be  let known . It is not true that Rajiv Gandhi was solely and mostly responsible  for computerisation of all work  in the country and the telecom revolution, both of which are  post-Rajiv developments .  The Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the largest  information technology  company in the country was founded in 1969. In the early 1980s was  founded India’s second  largest IT company,  Infosys. It is software and  information services and communications companies that are bringing  name and fame to India as  an ICT giant. The National Informatic Center (NIC) was set up  in the late 1970s / early 1980s to provide computer-based, networked  information to Union and State Governments  and Law Courts.    Rajiv Gandhi  can be  credited  only for   breaking the  barrier against use of computers  in government offices . I was one of the  beneficiaries . When I was a  Dy Director General in the Department  of   Telecoms (DOT) in 1983-87,  we had   computer use trainers   deployed  at the  initiative of  Sri Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister  in all government offices.  That is the   credit that is legitimately due to Rajiv Gandhi.  Excessive and exaggerated credits  are illegitimate.  I am sorry to have to make this observation  since in our Republic truth  shall always  triumph  -  Satyameva Jayate.


6.      The really creditable action of Rajiv Gandhi was the  separation of Telecoms from Posts; constituting  Telecoms as a separate department  (DOT) and  beginning the corporatization process by launching the MTNL and  VSNL.  The telecom revolution took place by the  policies of  PM’s P V Narasimha Rao and  Atal Behari Vajpayi . (1,591 words)