New Delhi: He is a man who has donned many hats in the past – of a former administrator, of a diplomat and of a governor. That makes Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, more than just a legacy name. And in the latest, he is being considered as the joint-opposition candidate to be India’s next President.
Speaking to the Indian Express, Gandhi confirmed that opposition parties have approached him to field him as their presidential candidate, but the talks were of “preliminary nature”.
The opposition’s pitch for his candidature comes amidst talks of fielding former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar, or veteran politician and NCP chief Sharad Pawar and JDU chief Sharad Yadav.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, meanwhile, in the last couple of weeks has held a series of meetings with leaders of other opposition and regional parties to garner support for a joint-opposition candidate for presidency.
While the other opposition parties have made no formal announcement, many of them apparently “are not keen” on a Congress nominee to be the joint-candidate.
Coming from outside the political spectrum, a broad consensus is emerging for Gopalkrishna Gandhi among the opposition parties, according to sources.
A graduate from St Stephens College of Delhi University, Gandhi joined the civil services as an IAS officer in 1968. He served in various capacities of an IAS officer in the state of Tamil Nadu for 17 years, till 1985.
He then served as the Secretary to Vice President R Venkataraman for two years between 1985 and 1987. Later, he served as Venkataraman’s joint-secretary during his five-year term as President.
In 1992, he was made the Minister in the High Commission of India in UK. The very year he was appointed the Director of The Nehru Centre, an autonomous cultural organisation affiliated to the Ministry of External Affairs.
Following his stint in the UK, he took up diplomatic roles in various countries and served in various capacities, including that of High Commissioner of India to South Africa and Lesotho.
He returned to India for a brief period between 1997 and 2000 and served as the Secretary to President KR Narayanan. He has also served as the High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka and as an ambassador to countries like Norway and Iceland.
Post his retirement as an IAS officer in 2003, he was appointed as the Governor of West Bengal. During those five years in office, he was given additional charge as the Governor of Bihar for a few months.
While it is no secret that Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s paternal grandfather is Mahatma Gandhi, he is also the grandson of C Rajagopalachari, who served as India’s last Governor General.
The position of Governor General of India was abolished post Independence and Rajagopalachari was succeeded by Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India. Gopalkrishna Gandhi is married to Tara Gandhi and the couple have two children.