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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rajiv Gandhi remembered on 65th Birthday

President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders paid homage to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 65th birth anniversary Thursday, joining his widow and Congress president Sonia, their son Rahul, daughter Priyanka and son-in-law Robert Vadra at Rajiv Gandhi's memorial Veer Bhumi here.

Hymns from all religions were sung at the memorial in his remembrance. Amongst those present on the occasion was Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar.

Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary is celebrated as Sadbhavna Diwas (harmony day) and Akshay Urja Diwas (energy day) in the country.

Sources said Sonia Gandhi will distribute wheelchairs to the physically challenged later in the day and Rahul will set off for Chhattisgarh, where he will celebrate his father's birth anniversary with tribals.

At a function, the ambitious National Rural Employment Guarantee Act will be re-christened after Rajiv Gandhi.

The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation will distribute awards to recognise the excellence achieved by Indians in different fields.

Rajiv Gandhi, the elder son of Indira and Feroze Gandhi, was the seventh prime minister of India. He took office on Oct 31, 1984 after his mother's assassination and resigned on Dec 2, 1989 following a defeat in the general elections. He became the youngest prime minister of the country at the age of 40.

Rajiv Gandhi had led the Congress party to a major election victory in 1984, amassing the largest majority ever in Indian Parliament. The party won 411 seats out of 542. He began dismantling the Licence Raj -- government quotas, tariffs and permit regulations on economic activity -- modernised the telecommunications industry, expanded science and technology initiatives and improved relations with the US.

Indo Asian News Service


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