New Delhi: The nation on Thursday paid tributes to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 18th death anniversary.
President Pratibha Patil, vice-president Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the departed leader’s wife and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi were among the first to pay floral tributes to the late leader at ‘Veer Bhumi´, the memorial of Gandhi.
Children of Gandhis, Congress MP Rahul and Priyanka along with her husband Robert Vadra were also present at the remembrance ceremony at the memorial, which was decorated with hundreds of white lotuses on the occasion.
Congress party president Sonia Gandhi pays tributes to former Indian prime minister and her husband Rajiv Gandhi on his 18th death anniversary, in New Delhi. AP
Besides, defence minister A.K. Antony, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit and a number of newly elected MPs, leaders of UPA allies like NC’s Farooq Abdullah and Kerala Congress chief K.M. Mani also paid floral tributes at the memorial.
The remembrance ceremony began with the entry of 18 children signifying the 18th year of martyrdom of Gandhi. He was assassinated on 21 May 1991 by a LTTE suicide bomber during a public meeting at Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu.
One of the children offered a length of Red Khadi in remembrance of the sacrifice of the late leader while another placed a ‘diya’ on the samadhi.
Pundit Madhu Mudgal lend a somber mood through his recital of ragas Todi, Desi and Bhairavi evoking the mood of loss and recollection.
A speech of Gandhi emphasising the need of secularism and fight against communalism was also played at the function.
The ceremony ended with two young athletes holding a tricolour taking round of the memorial.
The ceremony was also attended by former home minister Shivraj Patil, Congress leader Ambika Soni, Veerappa Moily, Meera Kumar, Jitin Prasad, Shashi Tharoor, Prithviraj Chavan, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Buta Singh.