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Gopalkrishna Gandhi: The man who has gone beyond family lineage, carved a niche

Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C Rajagopalachari, Gopalkrishna Gandhi does not need to rest on his family name for introduction

india Updated: Jul 17, 2017 17:21 IST
Gopalkrishna Gandhi,Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi,‪Indian National Congress
Gopalkrishna Gandhi started his career with the IAS cadre in 1968. (HT file photo)

His paternal grandfather was Mahatma Gandhi and maternal grandfather was politician statesman C Rajagopalachari, yet Gopalkrishna Gandhi, 71, is one of the few personalities who does not need to rest on his family name for introduction.

Gandhi, who started his career with the IAS cadre in 1968, was the governor of West Bengal during the most tumultuous years of the state in recent history. His term between December 2004 and December 2009 witnessed the mighty Left Front wilt from a brute strength of 235 seats in a 294-member Assembly in 2006 to completely losing political authority in two years following the violent land struggles in Singur and Nandigram.

While the Left was losing its iron grip over the state, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress was rapidly gaining popularity, unleashing winds of change. Soft spoken and determined, educated and accomplished, Gandhi held his position of authority as a man both camps could turn to in times of crisis.

To resolve the Singur crisis, he was successful in September 2008 in bringing to the negotiation table two of the leaders of Bengal who were most intolerant towards each other -- Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who was the chief minister at that time and Mamata Banerjee, the challenger.

That both Trinamool Congress and the Left are favourably disposed towards him, even in the most politically polarised situation, goes to show his acceptance and his ability to deal with divisive issues.

Gandhi was educated at St Stephen’s College where he studied English literature. After joining IAS, he served in Tamil Nadu till the mid-eighties. Between 1985 and 1987, he was the secretary of the vice-president of India. For the next five years, he was the joint secretary to the President of India.

Between 1992 and 2003, when he retired from service, he discharged various diplomatic and other responsibilities including high commissioner of India to South Africa and Lesotho (1996), secretary to President of India (1997-2000), high commissioner of India in Sri Lanka (2000), ambassador of India to Norway, and Iceland (2002).

He and wife Tara Gandhi have two daughters.

First Published: Jul 11, 2017 14:21 IST