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Gandhi's great grandson seeks re-election to Kansas House

Last updated on: May 09, 2014 01:09 IST

Dr Shanti Gandhi, a great-grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, is seeking a second term in the Kansas House of Representatives from the 52nd District.

So far the Republican has no competition in the primary.

There is time till the end of May, Dr Gandhi said.

Last time, he won the primary in a three-cornered contest.

Though in the last election, he did not want the media to play up his connection with the Mahatma, many people now know about it after it was widely reported.

Dr Gandhi said he does not want to use the Mahatma for electioneering this time too.

“I am doing well and it (his first term) has been a worthwhile experience. All of the legislature and the leadership have been very gracious to me. I have been fortunate to make unfettered decisions since I did not have any major sponsors who helped me get elected,” Dr Gandhi said.

“I am impressed with the group of young Republican freshmen as part of a two-third majority in the House. However, I do not believe they are a rubberstamp majority and cannot be dubbed as a veto proof majority in any sense. Hence I am seeing real democracy at work in Kansas.”

He said, “I have not been a very productive legislator as I was busy learning how the system works in the first place.”

As for the coming election he has no promises to make unlike other politicians.

“I do not believe in making any promises since I have no way to know that I can keep them,” Dr Gandhi said.

He added that he was closely following the Lok Sabha elections in India. He hoped that Rajmohan Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson and an Aam Aadmi Party candidate in Delhi, would do well.

“Thanks to India Abroad for keeping us abreast about the world’s biggest election. The results I believe will affect the whole world,” he added.

Dr Gandhi’s father, Kantilal was the son of Harilal, who rebelled against his father, the Mahatma.

Dr Gandhi came to the United States in 1967, as a medical graduate from GrantMedicalCollege in Mumbai.

‘A hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, offered me an internship position and my father encouraged me to take it. My parents were not rich by any means, and I wasn’t either. Fortunately, the hospital agreed to loan me the airfare, and that is how I landed in the US. It was my first flight,’ he noted.

He met his wife Susan, a registered nurse in Youngstown, Ohio, and they married in 1969.

Three of their daughters were born in Michigan, while he was in training there.

‘During those six years my annual salary went up from approximately $5000 to $8000 in the final year. We managed to live within our means and paid the taxes too,’ he said, adding that whether it was a family or state fiscal control was important. Otherwise the country would experience what Greece or Spain went through.

“We should learn to live within the means,” he said.

As a heart surgeon for 33 years, Dr Gandhi said he was worried that the US was lagging behind in medical research and innovations.

His wife is a Methodist and regularly attends The First United Methodist Church in Topeka and sings in the choir. He has a younger brother Pradeep Gandhi, an accountant working in Washington, DC.

George Joseph