Even at the age of 84, her eyes remain focussed and her speech is clear. Wrapped in a blue-bordered finely knitted white saree, Sumitra Gandhi Kulkarni can be introduced in many ways. But what is most significant is the fact that she is the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi. Daughter of Gandhi’s third son Ramdas Gandhi, Sumitra says that she is an old friend of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi.
Spend a minute with her and you get the feeling that two extreme ideologies can not only survive together but actually gel with each other. She represented Gujarat in Rajya Sabha from 1972 to 1978 on a Congress ticket.
Kulkarni was in the city with her husband Gajanan Kulkarni at the house of Jaimin Modi, whom she considers her brother. She has come to her grandfather’s land to meet her old friends, who of course, include CM Narendra Modi. She spoke to DNA’s Paras K Jha.
Meeting with Narendra Modi
We are old friends. So meeting was bound to be happy and pleasant.
Friendship with the CM
Why should anybody know about our friendship?
We are not here for some kind of publicity. I have known him since he was in-charge of Himachal and lived in Delhi. We not only respect each other, we also like each other. Excuse us if we are partial towards each other. I am partial towards him due to our old friendship.
Talks of Modi moving to Delhi
I don’t know anything about it and I am not going to speak anything on the issue. This is mere speculation, and I don’t want to enter the race.
What Modi has done in Gujarat
I have lived in Gujarat for a number of years with my husband. Now, I have come back here and can see the difference.
It has to be attributed to the man who is supervising it. The overall cleanliness, roads, people in general, shops, or wherever we go, we see development.
Social fabric of Gujarat
I really don’t know. You shouldn’t ask me because my answer will be prejudiced. I personally think highly of Amdavad and Gujarat. I think we (Gujaratis) are very honest, and hard working. We don’t go to beg to anyone. It is specialty of Gujarat that whatever we do, we achieve it through hard work. I am an admirer of Manek Chowk, where every person creates something with his hard work.
Communal harmony in state
It was always there; earlier also and it is now also. It hasn’t been disturbed. Because when I was living here, I used to move around Khadia and Jamalpur areas freely, without any fear. I am ready to go there even today.
I was born at Sabarmati Ashram, but raised at Sevagram, Vardha. But my husband (Gajanan Kulkarni)’s job in Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad brought me back to the city and I have lived here for 15 years. He is one of the founder faculty members of IIMA. One day, Vikram Sarabhai came to my home, had lunch and said that I am taking your husband with me. At that time he was joint secretary in the ministry of finance. So after that we came here from Delhi.