Wikileaks cables: When ex-president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed forced Indira Gandhi to apologise

Fakhruddin objected to controversial Sanjay Gandhi activities,leading to a row,cables show.

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Published: April 11, 2013 9:57 am

Wikileaks shows in an US embassy cable,sent on August 6,1976,that there was disaffection brewing between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed during the Emergency.

“Fakhruddin is concerned that the PM and her son are pushing too hard on the political and Constitutional system of India,” the cable said.

One version,the cable reported,is that the PM asked Fakhruddin to arrange for Vice-President B D Jatti to resign,”since he had been too quiet in praise of the Emergency.” The cable said: “In his place,the PM wanted to place former defence minister Swaran Singh. Fakhruddin allegedly expressed his strong reluctance to go along with such a scenario.”

Another version is that the “PM told the President she wished her entire cabinet to resign so that she could replace many of the older ministers with younger,more vigorous,and fresher minded individuals. Fakhruddin allegedly expressed grave concern over any plan for the wholesale disposal of senior Congress colleagues on the grounds this would jeopardize Congress unity.”

The cable noted,”A third version attributes Fakhruddin’s pique to a request by Sanjay that he provide a statement for the opening issue of Sanjay’s new magazine,Surya,arequest the President allegedly turned down as inappropriate and unusual. Sanjay is said to have responded with unkind words about the President which were reported to him,led to his complaining to Indira Gandhi,and ultimately to the PM’s offer of an apology on behalf of her son who declined to apologize.” “We have reason to believe that at least some of this has a ring of truth. Fakhruddin indeed does seem to be uncomfortable with some of Mrs Gandhi’s actions and certainly with those of her son,” the cable said.

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