Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia's husband and Indira Gandhi's elder son, was a pilot with the state-owned Indian Airlines. |
Unlike his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi, who had entered the hurly-burly world of politics and was enmeshed in various scandals, Rajiv led a low-profile life.
Rajiv is also described as a courteous person with fine manners. Political commentators have remarked that Rajiv's personality was so contrasting to that of his brother Sanjay.
Rajiv entered the political world after his brother Sanjay Gandhi's death in 1980 in an aircrash in Delhi. Sonia is said to have been bitterly opposed to Rajiv entering the political world.
Rajiv himself is believed to have been reluctant to initially respond to Indira's call.
Rajiv "was reluctant to take the plunge into politics even though he realized that he could not deny his mother the help she needed and was asking for," writes Inder Malhotra
Ultimately, the subtle and not-so-subtle pressure had its effect and Rajiv joined the Great Indian political circus paving the way ultimately for Sonia's entry into the political arena many years later.
Although Rajiv was initially hailed as "Mr Clean" his reputation was soon tainted by a scandal surrounding the procurement of big guns from Swedish defense firm Bofors.