New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former President Pranab Mukherjee and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were among those who on Tuesday paid tributes to slain former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 75th birth anniversary.
“Tributes to our former PM Shri Rajiv Gandhi,” Modi tweeted in a brief message.
Manmohan Singh said Rajiv Gandhi, who was Prime Minister in 1984-89, set the direction for India to enter the new millennium with a modern and scientific outlook.
Speaking at an event, he called Gandhi “a true visionary. He was also a very practical and hard-working person. It is this combination of vision and practical common sense, of passion and hard work that endeared him to so many in so short a period of time”.
Manmohan Singh praised Gandhi for making major strides in communication and IT, strengthening democracy at the Panchayat level, ending decade of insurgency in Mizoram, opening a fresh dialogue with China, launching technology missions and in many other areas “which have given us today a firm platform to launch further initiatives for growth and development”.
Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi, accompanied by former President and her son Rahul Gandhi and General Secretary and daughter Priyanka Gandhi, paid homage to Rajiv Gandhi at Virbhoomi here.
Pranab Mukherjee, Manmohan Singh and former Vice President Hamid Ansari also paid floral tributes to Rajiv Gandhi at Virbhoomi.
Rahul Gandhi said his father taught him never to hate anyone.
“Today we celebrate the 75th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhiji, a patriot and a visionary, whose far sighted policies helped build India. To me, he was a loving father who taught me never to hate, to forgive and to love all beings.”
Priyanka Gandhi tweeted: “From my father, I learned how to listen to people’s stories and find a place in my heart for them no matter how contrary to mine they might be. From him, I learned how to keep smiling and keep walking no matter how difficult the path might be.”
Manmohan Singh presented the Rajiv Gandhi Janma Pancha Sapthathi Puraskar to prominent personalities and organisations who have made valuable contribution to the society in the last one decade.
“The values Rajivji lived by were essentially the values that define our nationhood – a broad secular outlook, the spirit of tolerance, commitment to communal harmony and empathy to others…
“Another cause for solemn reflection today is some disturbing trends that our country has been witnessing over the past few years.
“These unpleasant trends of growing intolerance, communal polarization, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only damage our polity,” Manmohan Singh warned.
“All of us need to reflect on how we can contribute to arresting these trends.”
Calling secularism the bedrock of India’s nationhood, Manmohan Singh said: “No religion preaches hatred and intolerance. Vested interests, both external and internal, are inciting and exploiting communal passions and violence to divide India.”
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted: “India remembers your contributions to nation-building and will always miss you, Rajiv.”
Rajiv Gandhi became the Prime Minister after the assassination of his mother and then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in October 1984.
He was assassinated in May 1991 by a suicide bomber while campaigning for the Congress in Tamil Nadu’s Sriperumbudur.