Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi last year told US ambassador to India Timothy Roemer that "the growth of radicalised Hindu groups" may be a "bigger threat" to India than support to some Islamic terror groups from the Muslim community, according to diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
Rahul Gandhi told Roemer that although "there was evidence of some support for (Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba) among certain elements in India's indigenous Muslim community, the bigger threat may be the growth of radicalised Hindu groups, which create religious tensions and political confrontations with the Muslim community", the Guardian reported on Friday.
According to the daily, the 40-year-old politician told the ambassador that "the risk of a 'homegrown' extremist front, reacting to terror attacks coming from Pakistan or from Islamist groups in India, was a growing concern and one that demanded constant attention".
In late 2007, US diplomats described Rahul Gandhi, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, as "widely viewed as an empty suit and will have to prove wrong those who dismiss him as a lightweight".
"To do so he will have to demonstrate determination, depth, savvy and stamina. He will need to get his hands dirty in the untidy and ruthless business that is Indian politics," one diplomat said in a cable called "The son also rises: Rahul Gandhi takes another step towards top job".
Other cables talk of Rahul Gandhi's political inexperience and repeated gaffes. They also have cutting criticism from political analysts and journalists.
However as Rahul Gandhi warmed to the US, the US warmed to him, a cable said.
In a meeting with another American official last summer, he explained his strategy of targeting rural populations and small towns, impressing his interlocutor.
"(Rahul) Gandhi came off as a practised politician who knew how to get his message across, was precise and articulate and demonstrated a mastery that belied the image some have of (him) as a dilettante," the official said.
In November last year, after a meeting with Roemer, a cable to Washington described Gandhi as "an elusive contact in the past" but now "clearly interested in reaching out to the United States government".