Rajiv Gandhi's statement came when he was addressing a public rally on Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary on Nov.19, 1984.
The incident was followed by riots in the national capital, which led to 2800 deaths and widespread carnage.
Soon after Indira's death, her son Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as Prime Minister. Rajiv initially issued calls for peace in the country. However, a few weeks after Indira’s assassination, Rajiv was addressing a public rally on Nov 19, on the occasion of her birth anniversary where he spoke about the state of the country.
Rajiv said, "We must remember Indiraji. We must remember why her assassination happened. We must remember who could be the people behind this. When Indira's assassination happened, there were riots in the country. We know that the hearts of the Indian people were full of anger and that for a few days people felt India was shaking.". He further said that "When a big tree falls, the earth shakes."
The statement triggered a controversy given that it was made by a sitting Prime Minister. Opposition leaders, political experts, and those who had lost their family members in the violent riots heavily criticized Gandhi for his remark.