Subodh Varma, TNN | Apr 9, 2013, 04.18 AM IST
By the middle of 1976 the cables had began to accurately predict that Gandhi would be calling national elections in 1977. It is not clear how much of help they had received from this Gandhi household source.
A day after Indira Gandhi announced the emergency on June 26, 1975; a US Embassy cable said the key figures behind her move were sonSanjay Gandhi and her secretary R K Dhawan. “This is confirmed by a source close to the PM’s household. Both are non-ideological, extremely authoritarian in their general approach, and focused only on keeping Mrs. Gandhi in power,” the dispatch said.
The Embassy spoke to at least four prominent Congress MPs since Emergency was declared the previous day, before sending out the cable. “They differ on timing, some suggesting that Emergency will last no more than two-three months, others six months as the maximum. Similarly, some think the elections will be held on schedule at the end of this year, others that they may possibly be postponed till late in 1976 to give the PM an opportunity to show real progress in social/economic reforms,” cable said.
On a report regarding possible re-arrest of Charan Singh, again the cables quotes a “household” source on what Sanjay’s stand on the issue was.
By December, 1975, the cables had begun to detail the growing strength and tightening grip of Sanjay . “Under his aegis, the Youth Congress is organizing itself for a more activist role as the Congress’s cadre arm,” one cable said. It pointed out that Sanjay has a significant and growing number of “allies” within the council of ministers and the top levels of the bureaucracy who also exert influence on major policy decisions. “Sanjay has so far proceeded slowly, methodically and successfully. But the chances for him to make mistakes or to build up an anti-Sanjay — and indirectly an anti-Mrs Gandhi-lobby may increase as he attempts to widen his personal influence and activities and operates more publicly,” it accurately predicted.
By February, 1976, the cables predicted that Mrs Gandhi’s future decisions would probably be influenced by a swelling cynicism and resentment among the urban educated including the bureaucracy about the increasingly personalised nature of the regime she has been building. “Many who supported the emergency gains in discipline and efficiency are now bitterly criticizing, or at the very least, increasingly uneasy, over the rate at which Sanjay Gandhi is expanding her personal influence with his mother’s assistance in apparent preparation for the succession. Influential opinion makers, including some Congressmen, are becoming progressively less guarded in their private criticism of Mrs Gandhi, the suppression of political and press freedom and the expanding activities of the domestic intelligence apparatus,” the cable said.