28 July, 2021

The Second Among Equals

Why Gopal Gandhi will have to settle for a shot at the No 2 post

Photograph by PTI
The Second Among Equals

“Mr. Modi, there is a southern deficit in your India calculus. The Hindi-belt image of your victory should not tighten itself into a North-South divide. Please appoint a deputy prime minister from the South, who is not a politician at all, but an expert social scientist, ecologist, economist or a demographer.” Thus wrote Gopalkrishna Gandhi in an open letter to Narendra Modi ­after he had led the NDA to its massive win in May 2014.

This statement from Gandhi came des­pite the fact that the BJP and its allies won more seats from the South (barring Kerala) than what the Janata Party had in 1977. But, as he grudgingly admitted in his letter: “I am not one of those who wanted to see you reach the high office that you have reached.”

Thus, as an open critic of Modi, ­Gopal Gandhi (71) could not have been acc­epted as consensus candidate for the President’s post in spite of his pedigree—being the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and C.R. Rajagopalachari—a potent combination of “chatur baniya” and “shrewd...

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