Precisely 40 years before Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi called India a beehive buzzing with complexity and energy, the analogy was used was by opponents of the Gandhi scion’s grand-mother Indira Gandhi to target her party.
According to a US cable in April 1973, S Nijalingappa who led the splinter group of congressmen told them that the Indira-led Congress (R) was "like a beehive with Mrs Gandhi as queen bee. When she goes the smaller bees will fly away and hive”.
Wikileaks: Indira used Emergency to de-energised institutionalized power centers
Assessing the situation in India after one year of the Emergency, US analysts said the Emergency had enabled Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to complete a six-year-old process of "de-energising" other institutionalised centers of power like the press, Parliament, judiciary etc and also assist her son Sanjay Gandhi's lateral entry into Indian politics.
“Measured in strict political terms, the PM’s power today has never been greater. But the legitimacy and popular consensus the old system provided is also less assured and could become increasingly uncertain in the future,” a secret Wikileaks diplomatic cable dated May 19, 1976 has revealed.
The same cable also talks about the issue of succession, which the Sanjay-led ‘inner circle’ was already working to capture prime-ministership in the event of Indira Gandhi’s death.
“So far as we know, she is in good health at age 58 and could go on for another generation as her son Sanjay matures, she may feel he is ready to move into her position ten years (he will be 40) or more hence, and may consider 'withdrawing' in his favour. But the succession could follow a different pattern should she die sooner - and suddenly.
We believe that that the present Sanjay-led "inner circle" around the prime minister is already working to position itself to capture the prime ministership in the event of Mrs Gandhi's sudden death,” the cable said.
“If the 'inner circle' should succeed in capturing the prime minstership, the likelihood of sharply enhanced authoritarianism in India would increase substantially,” the cable adds.
Wikileaks Sanjay, Dhawan enjoyed exalted status for Indira
In a confidential diplomatic cable dated August 26, 1975, Delhi-based US diplomats underlined Sanjay Gandhi and RK Dhawan’s exalted position among Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s inner circle of advisors whose importance would forever stay.
Gandhi was also turning more and more to the conservative-oriented chief ministers of Punjab and Harayana, Zail Singh and Bansi Lal, for consultations on political topics.
Besides them, “technocrats Pai and Subramaniam have her ear on economic affairs, intelligence czar RN Kao and paramilitary head Rustomiji on security matters.”
“The advisors around her, particularly Sanjay and Dhawan, are really trusted loyalists whose continuing proximity to the prime minister is based on familiar or close personal ties.
She consults with them, and entrusts them with political assignments. Apart from Sanjay, we judge that no one in this inner circle has the potential to expand his individual influence beyond these limitations,” the cable said.
On Dhawan, the cable sent by US ambassador to India William Bart "Bill" Saxbe said: “Dhawan's influence stems from his omnipresence around the prime minister. Dhawan controls who Mrs Gandhi meets at her residence, where (as opposed to her offices in South Block or parliament where visitors generally get at the most fifteen minutes) her important meetings and discussions take place. He has skillfully attached himself to Sanjay and works as a purveyor of his as well as Mrs Gandhi's instructions.”
Wikileaks: JP’s movement the ‘return of moral politics’
A confidential diplomatic cable dated November 8, 1974, by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then US ambassador to India, termed socialist leader Jai Prakash Narayan’s movement as the return of moral politics that unsettled Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Moynihan wrote: “Narayan's rejection of power in 1952 when Nehru offered him India's deputy prime-ministership; his abstinence from sex throughout his married life; his Gandhian style of simple living; and his insistence that morality must not be divorced from politics have earned him enormous favor among politically conscious, non-westernized Indians.”
“To Mrs Gandhi, the reality that the type of challenge Narayan poses is one that she has not confronted before and one which will not necessarily yield to a "hard line" – or to the exercise of the unparalleled political skills she has shown up to now. She may, therefore, adjust by shifts from direct "confrontation" to indirect "accommodation" politics, absorbing some of Narayan's proposals (at least in form) in an effort to deflate his platform and thereby weaken his effectiveness.”
“The prime minister has, in Narayan, the most formidable challenge to her personal authority since coming to power, and the only phenomenon of its kind since Mahatma Gandhi took on the British Raj,” the ambassador added.
Wikileaks: Sanjay behind attempt to oust WB CM SS Ray
A confidential diplomatic cable dated December 23, 1976 sent from the US embassy Delhi to Washington mentioned that a prominent Congress MP had recently told the political counselor that the family (Indira Gandhi’s family) was determined to remove SS Ray from the post of West Bengal CM at some point and that the “prestige of Sanjay Gandhi has been placed on the line in this affair, and for Ray to remain in office indefinitely would be a serious loss of face for him.”
Reflecting on Mrs Gandhi’s tactic, it said: “We tend to view the present compromise (if it happens) as an example of one of Mrs Gandhi's favorite tactics when confronted with an obstreperous problem: maintain the facade and yet gradually reduce the power and influence of the person in question.”
The same cable also said: “Ray will be allowed to stay in office, but will lose the home ministry portfolio. The six-man committee to oversee the state's administration will obviously be a powerful check on the chief minister's latitude for political movement, if it works at all. Ray may find that the trappings of the chief ministership will increasingly lose their luster as his power is progressively circumscribed.”
Wikileaks: When the British began watering American Bourbon whisky
A diplomatic cable dated May 8, 1973 released by Wikileaks and sent from the Europe US Mission in Brussels to Washington DC stated that the British were watering imported American Bourbon whisky and selling it to the Germans.
“EC customs officials have informed the mission privately that they have just learned that the British are watering our whiskey and selling it to the Germans,” the cable said.
“German customs have notified EC customs officials that they have just received a shipment of “finest four year old Bourbon whiskey” from the Red Lion Blending Co Ltd, 1st the village, North End Way, London NW 3, accompanied by a certificate issued by HM Customs, Glasgow.”
“The certificate states that the product consists of 15,756 liters of bourbon whiskey produced in the United States to which 935 gallons of water have been added producing a total quantity of 20,352.4 liters of ‘finest four year old’. The original US product had an alcoholic content of 55.1 degrees Gay Lussac, but the additional water has reduced the final products to 43.3 degrees Gay Lussac.
Wikileaks: Antony refused to support Sanjay during Gauhati AICC session
A K Antony was "one of the only" leaders apart from Priyaranjan Dasmunsi who "flatly criticised" Sanjay Gandhi during 1976 AICC session in Guwahati during Emergency when the latter's political graph was on the rise, an US diplomatic cable dated November 26, 1976 has claimed.
The cables, made public by Wikileaks, also said the party faction led by Antony, the Kerala unit President, refused to support Sanjay and questioned his "rapid ascent to a position of power" asking "what sacrifices he has made for the party or the country".
On the Guwahati AICC session and Youth Congress conclave, the cables said, Sanjay was the star attraction and he received top billing as the prime mover behind the organisation's revitalisation and as a national leader second only to his mother Indira Gandhi.
Despite all the fanfare for Sanjay and the Youth Congress, the cables said, US diplomats in Delhi continue to hear and see no evidence that the quality of YC membership "improved measurably".
"Kerala Congress president A K Antony was one of the only leaders to flatly criticise the new Youth Congress and Sanjay. The other key critic was West Bengal Congress leader P R Dasmunsi," it said.