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US Was Afraid of Annoying Indira During Emergency

The US chose to crawl when it wasn’t even asked to bend by censoring its own correspondents and directing embassy officials to avoid meeting leaders from opposition parties.

Published: 21st June 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st June 2015 08:54 AM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI:In spite of its avowed commitment to democracy, the role of the US in India during the Emergency had many self-imposed contradictions, reveal WikiLeaks cables between the US Ambassador to India at the time William B Saxbe and the American government. The most powerful country on the planet believed that it was essential to maintain a good relationship with the government even when civil liberties were curtailed between 1975-1977, for fear of the balance tilting heavily towards the Soviets when China was “on the prowl”. Ambassador Saxbe met Indira twice immediately after the Emergency was clamped. The US chose to crawl when it wasn’t even asked to bend by censoring its own correspondents and directing embassy officials to avoid meeting leaders from opposition parties.

On July 23, 1975, Saxbe had a 25-minute meeting with Mrs Gandhi in Parliament which he termed as a “conversational monologue”. Saxbe tried to convince Indira that CIA was not involved in propping up opposition parties.

The cable reads: “He (Saxbe) had seen the Director of CIA on his recent trip home (US) and had told both Mr. Colby (William Colby, the then CIA Chief) and the Secretary (Henry Kissinger) that he would resign as Ambassador if there was such interference. Particularly as a result of the congressional hearings on CIA, any past free rein on CIA which might have existed would now disappear. (The Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi) smiled and observed “We don’t want you to resign”. The cable further noted, “Mrs. Gandhi uttered between 33 and 50 words during the exchange (depending on whether you count ‘MMMS’ and ‘Prepositions’).

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