Apart from Dasmunsi,Antony ‘flatly’ criticised Sanjay Gandhihttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/apart-from-dasmunsi-antony-flatly-criticised-sanjay-gandhi/

Apart from Dasmunsi,Antony ‘flatly’ criticised Sanjay Gandhi

It also talks about the tension between President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Indira Gandhi over the family planning programme and describes Karan Singh as “intellectual and political lightweight”.

The latest tranche of US diplomatic cables written between 1973 and 1976 and released by WikiLeaks reveals that Congress leader A K Antony had spoken against Sanjay Gandhi and asked,“What sacrifices has he made for the party or the country” and Kamal Nath was “sponsoring” Ghani Khan Choudhury because he as power minister had awarded contracts to Nath’s power company. It also talks about the tension between President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Indira Gandhi over the family planning programme and describes Karan Singh as “intellectual and political lightweight”.

Antony questions Sanjay Gandhi’s “rapid ascent to a position of power”

On May 14,1976,a US diplomatic cable titled,“Sanjay Gandhi not popular in Kerala”,said the wing of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee led by A K Antony and another faction of the Kerala Youth Congress do not support him (Sanjay).

“Antony and those refusing to support Sanjay question his rapid ascent to a position of power,asking themselves,we understand,what sacrifices he has made for the party or the country,” the cable said. It also said that another faction led by Kerala Home minister K Karunakaran supports Sanjay.

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Another US cable,sent on November 26,1976,on the Youth Congress and AICC sessions in Guwahati,said,“Kerala Congress chief A K Antony was one of the only leaders to flatly criticize the new Youth Congress and Sanjay (Gandhi); the other key critic was West Bengal Congress leader P R Dasmunsi.”

Kamal Nath supports Ghani Khan Choudhury,tipped off the US about a Congress appointment,before it was made public

In a US embassy cable sent on September 17,1976,Kamal Nath was described as “Sanjay’s school buddy and chief operator” in West Bengal. It also said that Nath has “sponsored” Bengal’s power and irrigation minister “Ghani Khan Choudhury who is said to have awarded a very large contract to Nath’s firm (Nath manufactures power cable),” as replacement for Siddharth Shankar Ray. The cable talks about power tussle to remove Ray from the position of West Bengal’s CM at the behest of Sanjay Gandhi and Kamal Nath.

Another cable,sent on November 26,1976,reveals that Nath had tipped off the US embassy about the appointments in the Youth Congress,before it was made public. “Nath was the first to alert us of the impending ouster of P R Dasmunsi from the presidency of the Youth Congress.”

“Nath’s professions of friendship for the US are sincere. He studied and worked in the US,goes there frequently and has many American friends…. Nath is not someone we would want to be identified with. He is a bull in a china shop,a political novice who if he has his way will destroy the delicate equilibrium within the state Congress party and in relations here between the Congress and the CPI and CPM and set off dangerous turmoil. We tried in our talk with Nath to inject some awareness of these dangers but he was serenely confident of the rightness of the course and Sanjay’s ability to control events,” the cable said.

Tension between President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Indira Gandhi

A US embassy cable,sent on August 6,1976,talked about rumours of some disaffection between Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed. “…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,a request 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.

Karan Singh is ‘intellectual and political lightweight’

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On March 18,1973,a US embassy cable,while talking about Karan Singh’s resignation offer on account of an air crash,said Singh,who is “son of last Kashmir raja,is widely regarded as intellectual and political lightweight who has been kept in cabinet because of loyalty to PM and as sop to princes and Kashmiri Hindus.”