After NCP Sharad Pawar, the name of Mahatma Gandhi's grandson as emerged as one of the potential nominees for becoming the next President of India. The Election Commission of India has scheduled the date for the 16th Presidential election as July 18 and the counting of votes would be held on July 21, if needed. A total of 4,809 electors comprising MPs and MLAs will vote to elect Ram Nath Kovind's successor. Kovind’s tenure will be ending on July 24 following which the new President will be sworn in on July 25.
In the Opposition meeting held on June 15 ahead of the Presidential polls, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee suggested the name of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, along with the name of former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah.
Who is Gopalkrishna Gandhi?
77-year-old Gopal Krishna Gandhi is a former bureaucrat who has served an illustrious career as a diplomat and held several administrative positions. He has previously served as India's High Commissioner to South Africa and Sri Lanka. He has also served as the 23rd Governor of West Bengal serving from 2004 to 2009.
A former IAS officer, Gandhi has served as the Secretary to the former President of India (1987-92) and before that as the Secretary to Vice President of India (1985–1987). A prominent Tamil scholar, Gandhi was elected as the Chairman of Kalakshetra Foundation in Chennai in 2011, a position he held till 2014. He is also credited with translating the Tamil classic, the Tirukkural, into English, in 2015. He was also the chairman of the governing body of Indian Institute of Advanced Study and President of its society from 2012 to 2014. At present, he is a Professor of History and Politics at Ashoka University.
He is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari on his mother's side. Previously, Gandhi stoked controversy when he criticised the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as a "department of dirty tricks". While delivering the 15th D P Kohli Memorial Lecture for CBI on "Eclipse at Noon: Shadows Over India's Conscience" which was heard live by nearly 3,000 officers of the agency in the audience, Gandhi noted that "The CBI is seen as the government's hatchet, rather than honesty's ally".
He was also a critic of the capital punishment meted out to the 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict Yakub Memon. In 2015, he famously wrote a letter to the President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, to reconsider the rejection of the mercy plea of the 1993 Mumbai serial blast convict, Yakub Memon.
What did Gandhi say about his nomination?
This is not the first time Gandhi's name has emerged for President or Vice President. In 2017, Gandhi was the consensus opposition candidate for the post of Vice President of India. He lost the polls to M Venkaiah Naidu.
Sources said some Opposition leaders talked to Gandhi over the phone and urged him to consider their request for being the joint opposition candidate for the post of President.
Asked about his name doing the rounds as a possible choice for the Opposition's candidate for presidential polls, Gandhi told PTI, "It is too premature to comment on it."
According to sources, Gandhi has sought some time from these leaders to respond to their request.
(With inputs from PTI)