Former West Bengal governor, bureaucrat, diplomat and scholar Gopal Krishna Gandhi is emerging as a front-runner for the post of ambassador to Myanmar, with the Indian government deciding to engage its eastern neighbour, even as it makes a transition from military dictatorship to democracy.
Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari, Gopal Gandhi is expected to succeed ambassador VS Sheshadri on his superannuation next month.
Top government sources said Gopal Gandhi's name is being considered at the highest levels with Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhyaya, a 1980 batch career diplomat, also in the race for the assignment in Naypyidaw. But when contacted, Gandhi said he did not know anything about being considered for the Myanmar posting. Gandhi has earlier served as high commissioner to South Africa, Sri Lanka and ambassador to Norway apart from being secretary to former president KR Narayanan.
This comes after Myanmar President Thein Sein moved the country from junta rule to democracy with National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi allowed to visit India last year.
India is looking towards seriously engaging Myanmar given the Chinese inroads into infrastructure, hydrocarbon projects and military-to-military cooperation in the past two decades. "By sending a political representative, India wants to send a signal of a special relationship with Myanmar… And that is precisely the reason that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh travelled to Naypyidaw in 2012," a senior official said.
Though New Delhi was under pressure from the international community not to deal with military junta in Myanmar in the past decade, the fact is that Naypyidaw holds the key to eradicating insurgency in North-East states with major militant groups such as NSCN (I-M), NSCN (K), ULFA, PLA and KYKL having camps across the borders. Since President Thein Sein's taking over reins, Myanmar has tried to balance its relationship with China and has assured New Delhi of action against North-East rebels.