Mahatma?s kin have little use for politics today
Gandhian Nirmala Deshpande recalls the late Vinoba Bhave once telling her “jis ped par sarvottam phal aa gaya ho voh ya to sookh jata hai ya achchha phal nahi deta” (once a tree has borne its best fruit, it either withers or fails to give a good yield). Many believe this has perhaps happened to Mahatma Gandhi’s clan.
The influence of the Gandhi family seems to have shrivelled with the Mahatma’s assassination. “There are about 45-odd descendants of the Mahatma but I am perhaps the only one in active politics in India,’’ says Tushar Gandhi, one of the Mahatma’s great grandson.
Many of Gandhi’s descendants are based abroad or follow different professions in India. Many of them have done well in their professions. Only three have entered politics.
The latest is Tushar. A former member of the Samajwadi Party, he recently met Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary, Ahmed Patel to seek a Congress ticket from Porbandar. Though the Congress hasn’t yet taken a decision, a section in the state unit believes the ticket should be given to a homegrown Congressman to help rebuild the party.
A managing trustee of the Mahatma Gandhi Foundation in Mumbai, Tushar first came into news in 1997 when, armed with a court verdict, he recovered an urn of Gandhi’s ashes from an SBI vault in Orissa. Last year he created a controversy when he permitted a US firm to market Gandhi’s name. Following an outcry, he withdrew the permission.
His uncle, Rajmohan Gandhi, was associated with V.P. Singh during the National Front regime. He was a Rajya Sabha member from 1990-92. His nomination came a year after the Janata Dal fielded him against Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi in 1989. Rajmohan lost. As a Janata Party candidate he had lost the election in Jabalpur in 1980. Now he shuttles between India and the US where he teaches.
Sumitra Kulkarni, Gandhi’s granddaughter, came into the spotlight when she joined the BJP. She was also the only woman in the Constitution Review Commission. Kulkarni was a Rajya Sabha member when Indira Gandhi was prime minister.
Gopal Gandhi came into the limelight when he joined the presidential staff, as joint secretary to R. Venkataraman and secretary to KR Narayanan. An IAS officer, he has also served as an envoy in South Africa and Sri Lanka and is presently posted in Norway.
Perhaps the most politically active member of the family is Ela, a member of South Africa’s parliament.
** Great grandson Tushar has just asked Cong for a ticket from Porbandar
** Grandson Rajmohan was Rajya Sabha MP and associated with V.P. Singh’s NF govt
** Granddaughter Sumitra joined BJP and was on the statute review panel