"Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi faces at least an even chance of assassination before his tenure in office ends in 1989. Assassination is the major near-term threat to him," a declassified report by the Central Intelligence Agency states.
A 23-page report titled India After Rajiv' was prepared by the CIA in March 1986. This report was declassified recently. Rajiv was assassinated at Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.
"If Gandhi fell to a Sikh or Kashmiri Muslim assassin, widespread communal violence would probably erupt even if strong preventive security measures -- including deployment of the army and paramilitary troops across northern India -- were taken by the Indian President ......(deleted)," it said.
The report states that (former prime ministers) P V Narasimha Rao and V P Singh could be the interim successor in the event of Rajiv's death.
A section, titled The Threat of Assassination: Stability in Jeopardy, states, "In our view, there is at least an even chance in the next several years of an assassination, most likely by extremist Sikhs or disgruntled Kashmiri Muslims who have targeted Rajiv, besides 'a fanatical Hindu'."
Interestingly, there is no mention of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in the report. But it is unclear whether there is no mention or was it part of the files which were deleted. There is however a portion which speaks about the efforts Rajiv made to resolve the conflict between the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo.
US interests at risk:
The report states that the death of Rajiv would represent a significant blow to US interests, regardless of the circumstances of the succession. "We believe Indo-US relations could also suffer as a result of domestic political changes following Rajiv's assassination," it says.
"Although some of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's policies will continue to encounter serious resistance over the next several years, we believe his dominance of the Indian political scene is secure until at least the end of his present term of office in December 1989, barring his incapacitation or death," the report adds.
The report also dealt with the possibility of a 'national government' taking over in case of a sudden exit by Rajiv, while discounting the possibility of a military coup.