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Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi

May 30, 1991

The tragic death of Rajiv Gandhi brings back memories of his visit to Los Angeles exactly 30 years ago.

At that time Rajiv was a youth more worried about his acne than about political affairs. His mother, Indira Gandhi, was taking him to enroll in the university at Cambridge. My wife, son Richard and I had the pleasure of being their hosts during the brief pause en route.

Thereafter I frequently corresponded with Mrs. Gandhi, often sending her editorial comments from the American press. She always responded with more than mere superficial comments.

On one occasion I sent her an article critical of her sponsoring Rajiv for leadership in the Indian Congress Party. Her reply from New Delhi on Nov. 8, 1983, was quite touching. It read, in part:

"There are advantages and disadvantages in being the son of a prominent person. Other ministers and top leaders have sons in politics. Why have they not made any impact? Many in the West and many of our own people find it difficult to understand that neither I nor my two sons have any ambition in the sense the word is used in America. Rajiv came in to support me at a time when I was shattered by my younger son's death and I must admit that he has been of tremendous help to me. He has been able to mobilize young people and to bring in an element of rational and practical thinking into our party. However, in no way has he received any special favor from the government or from me as president of our party."

It is tragic that both Indira Gandhi and now Rajiv have been removed from leadership. Their country, and the world, cannot afford to lose leaders of that quality.


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