Two tweets by WikiLeaks from the 2005 US cables on general perceptions about Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi and Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has kicked a storm online.
A file photo of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi delivering a speech during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in New Delhi. (AFP photo)
WikiLeaks, which has 2.22 million followers, had tweeted excerpts from the 2005 the diplomatic cables over the weekend.
One cable, dated March 3, 2005, quotes senior journalist Saeed Naqvi as telling his US interlocutor that the word among Congress insiders was Rahul Gandhi "would never become Prime Minister".
Naqvi claimed that it is increasingly common knowledge that Rahul suffers from "personality problems of an emotional or psychological nature that are severe enough to prevent him from functioning as PM".
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He also said the Gandhi family always preferred Priyanka to enter politics since she was "more intelligent and savvy" and that the Gandhi dynastic politics "had no future".
Interestingly, Priyanka on Monday denied reports she wanted to take on Modi in Varanasi in the general elections.
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The cable, signed by the then ambassador David Mulford, concludes by differing with Naqvi and asserting that the embassy "was not yet prepared to write" Rahul off.
The second cable, dated August 10, 2005, was sent soon after Modi expanded his cabinet in Gujarat, and is an analysis of the Gujarat chief minister's political tactics.
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Recognising his "star is rising in national politics", the US felt that with the expansion, Modi had "solidified his power in Gujarat", and was "using his strong base in Gujarat to position himself for the BJP power struggle and to crow about Gujarat's investment friendly (but certainly not minority-friendly) record".
The cable notes that Modi is "using caste/class resentments within Hinduism" – by promoting OBCs, after having "effectively manipulated religious strife to strengthen his power base during and after the 2002 riots".
In some ways, the two cables are prescient – about Modi's use of the OBC card, and capturing the perceptions about Rahul's absence of leadership.
Whistle-blower Julian Assange's WikiLeaks had in March said the BJP had pushed fake endorsement in support of Modi.
The clarification came in the backdrop of some BJP supporters circulating posters quoting Assange saying that "America is scared of Modi because he is incorruptible."
In a series of tweets, WikiLeaks had claimed it never said Modi was incorruptible, a stand contrary to what a section of BJP supporters allegedly believes. Some BJP posters have also allegedly used the "endorsement".
"…rather he is popular because 'viewed' as 'incorruptible'," WikiLeaks had said in a tweet.
The controversy dates back to 2006, when US diplomat and Mumbai consular general Michael S Owen, according to WikiLeaks, met with Modi.