Vice Presidential Election 2017: Opposition nominates Gopalkrishna Gandhi; Mahatma's grandsons' fight polls only to lose

The announcement of Gopalkrishna Gandhi's name as vice presidential post nominee of the Opposition camp can be seen as the Congress taking one step forward to placate Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar who is lately seen to be drifting towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP.

Gopalkrishna Gandhi. PIB

Gopalkrishna Gandhi. PIB

Gopalkrishna's name was first proposed by Nitish Kumar as Opposition's presidential nominee in the first week of June in Chennai where he and other Opposition leaders had gathered to celebrate the 94th birthday of DMK patriarch K Karunanidhi. Gopalkrishna's name was seconded by NCP, JD(S), NCP, TMC, Left and DMK but the move couldn't take off because Rahul Gandhi had other ideas. Sources said Rahul told Nitish and other Opposition leaders that the presidential nominee issue should be discussed at a later date in New Delhi.

Writing for Firstpost, JD(U) national general secretary KC Tyagi wrote: "On 3 June, when leaders of opposition parties met in Chennai for Shri Karunanidhi’s birthday celebrations, Nitish Kumar had conveyed his acceptance on Gopal Krishna Gandhi’s candidature. It appears that this name perhaps did not meet acceptance in a segment of the Congress leadership, which led to the lack of unanimity amongst the opposition parties with no consensus being arrived on any one single name."

Gopalkrishna's name was later proposed by Left parties but hours later at a meeting chaired by Sonia Gandhi Left leaders happily agreed on Meira Kumar, daughter of Dalit leader Jagjiwan Ram as Nitish Kumar had already gone ahead to support ruling BJP's presidential nominee Ramnath Kovind and since then relations between Congress and JD(U) have become strained. Though Nitish didn't attend Tuesday's opposition leaders meet chaired by Sonia but those present at the meet saw merit in Bihar chief minister's initial choice for opposition's presidential nominee. It remains to be seen whether or not Nitish is impressed.

Announcing Gopalkrishna's candidature, Sonia said the former had agreed to enter the electoral arena for the vice president's post.

The fact that opposition has announced its candidate for vice president and the ruling BJP-led NDA will announce its candidate in the next few days, the election for the post on 5 August has become inevitable.

Gopalkrishna though an accomplished administrator and writer, but he was chosen as vice presidential nominee, not for his personal credentials but because he is the grandson of Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi. The Congress and its allied parties wanted to make this election as a clash of ideologies. Mahatma's grandson candidature fitted that bill that too at a time when Modi is trying to appropriate the Mahatma's legacy. He has linked Swachh Bharat Abhiyan with the Mahatma and made his recent statement against lynch mob tendency of a section of people in society from Sabarmati in Gujarat.

On his part, Gopalkrishna has positioned himself as a virulent anti-Modi thinker though his writings in various publications. In January this year, The Hindu quoted him as saying "India is currently being ruled by the forces of fear, distrust and money". At the second VR Krishna Iyer Memorial lecture, he said “Who rules India? I will not mention the name of a person. I shouldn’t say who. I should say what. Fear rules India." Ahead of 2014 parliamentary elections, he wrote an article in The Guardian headlined "If Modi is elected, it will bode ill for India's future".

Gandhi is now Opposition's nominee for the vice presidential post but given the number game of both houses of Parliament Gopalkrishna will give only a symbolic fight to whosoever will be Modi's nominee for the post. Gopalkrishna is sure to lose 5 August election. The only question is how big or small would be victory or defeat margin.

The question arises why do grandsons of Mahatma fight elections only to lose? It's not a very happy situation for the Mahatma's family legacy as even after 70 years of Independence his grandsons are seeking to make themselves politically relevant.

Gopalkrishna's brother Rajmohan tried his luck twice in parliamentary elections and badly failed in his endeavour. In 1989, Rajmohan landed in Amethi to challenge Rajiv in parliamentary elections and make that election into a fight between a 'real' Gandhi and a 'fake' Gandhi. In this fight, people of Amethi chose Rajiv as their 'own' Gandhi.

Ahead of 2014 parliamentary election, Rajmohan was seen as part of a mob which attacked BJP headquarters in New Delhi. He later fought elections as an Aam Admi Party candidate from East Delhi parliamentary seat but lost that election by a margin of about two lakh votes to BJP candidate Mahesh Giri.

Grandsons of Mahatma should ponder whether there is need to fight elections only to be defeated. Does that serve well to Mahatma's legacy?

Updated Date: Jul 12, 2017 06:34 AM

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