Rajiv Gandhi
India's seventh and youngest Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.Wikimedia Commons/Nationaal Archief

President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid their tributes to Rajiv Gandhi on his 71st birth anniversary on Thursday.

President Mukherjee paid a floral tribute at the Samadhi of India's seventh Prime Minister. Congress president and Rajiv Gandhi's widow Sonia Gandhi, his son Rahul Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh also attended a prayer meet at the Samadhi – Veer Bhumi (Land of Brave) – in New Delhi.

Modi took to Twitter to pay homage to Rajiv Gandhi.

Other leaders, including Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley, also paid homage to Rajiv Gandhi at Parliament House in New Delhi.

Remembering Rajiv Gandhi – youngest Prime Minister of India

Rajiv Gandhi was born on 20 August, 1944 to Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi in Bombay (now called Mumbai). He did his schooling in Welham Boys' School and The Doon School in Dehradun. For his higher studies, Rajiv went to London and joined Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1962 to study engineering, but he never completed his studies.

[Rajiv Gandhi's Birth Anniversary in Pictures]

After returning to India in 1966, Rajiv underwent training at Delhi Flying Club and joined Air India as pilot in 1970. In between his return from the UK and joining Air India, Rajiv married Italian woman Edvige Antonia Albina Màino, who later changed her name to Sonia Gandhi. Rajiv had met her when he went to UK for his studies.

Unlike his younger brother Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv maintained his distance from politics until the former died in a plane crash on 23 June, 1980. Four years after entering politics, Rajiv was appointed as the Prime Minister of India on 31 October, 1984, the day then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated.

With this, he became the youngest Prime Minister of India and was also a Member of Parliament for Amethi from 1981 to 1991. However, he lost his position in 1989 elections and the Bofors scandal is believed to have resulted in his defeat. That same year he was appointed as the Leader of Opposition and remained in the post until December 1990. 

Rajiv also became the President of the Indian National Congress – the youngest yet again -- and maintained his position until 1991 elections. Like his mother, Rajiv too was assassinated on 21 May, 1991 while campaigning for elections in Sriperumbudur city of Tamil Nadu.