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When Rajiv failed to move the Iron Lady

world Updated: Mar 19, 2011 00:34 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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Rajiv Gandhi's famed good looks failed to charm former British premier Margaret Thatcher just when they were needed most.

The dashingly handsome Rajiv and two other PMs- Canada's Brian Mulroney and Australia's Robert Hawke - were handpicked by Commonwealth secretary-general Sonny Ramphal to launch a weekend's charm offensive on Thatcher in 1985, Rajiv Gandhi's widow and Congress president Sonia Gandhi told a London audience on Thursday night.

The mission of the "handsome threesome" was to try and persuade Thatcher to drop her fierce opposition to calls for boycotting the racist South African regime.

"They were selected apparently as much for their looks as their political weight," Gandhi said delivering the 14th Commonwealth Lecture. "In private, he (Ramphal) jokingly told them: 'She will not be able to resist the three best-looking men of the Conference'."

But, said Sonia Gandhi, "the Iron Lady was unmoved and the handsome threesome failed ...." The audience burst into laughter at the historic Northumberland House. Years later, Thatcher admitted to Rajiv's allure while delivering the Rajiv Gandhi golden jubilee memorial lecture in 1995.

'Climate talks are gender blind'
At the conference, Gandhi said most of the climate debate so far has been "gender-blind" even as she expressed concern over women's voices hardly figuring in global climate talks.

She also felt there is a need for "climate justice" between genders.
(with inputs from HTC, Delhi)