US diplomatic cables leaked by the Wikileaks organisation, reportedly show that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi thought her son, Sanjay, was ‘small fry’ and ‘would never be Prime Minister or President’, according to this report in the Indian Express. The report quotes one of the leaked cables as quoting Gandhi in 1976 as saying, “He is much too small a fry or person because he is not going to be the prime minister or the president. All he can be is a Congress worker. So I think the attack is definitely on me.”
She had reportedly made the comments with regard to what she called a CPI effort to spread “baseless propaganda against her, her son and the Congress.” The intent behind her statement is not known, so it isn’t clear if she really believed what she said, or whether she was trying to shield her son from the glare of hostile attacks. Given the tales of how much she doted on her younger son, the latter is also highly likely – especially given that the comment came in 1976, during the Emergency, when Sanjay Gandhi was possibly at his most powerful.
The US embassy’s cable drew a similar conclusion, saying that Indira’s “remarkable reference to Sanjay as a ‘small fry’ may be an “effort to allay fears about his growing role in national politics and to place him in a framework more acceptable to hostile elements in the Congress.” It was often quipped that Sanjay Gandhi had complete control over his mother, and the Congress Party has in later years, blamed him for many of the excesses that occurred during the Emergency.
“Sanjay Gandhi had, by then, emerged as a leader of great significance. It was due to his support to family planning that the government decided to pursue it more vigorously. He also promoted slum clearance, anti-dowry measures and promotion of literacy but in an arbitrary and authoritarian manner much to annoyance of the popular opinion,” said a report in Times of India. Other Wikileaks cables on Sanjay Gandhi revealed that no less than three assassination attempts had been made to eliminate him.
“There were three assassination attempts on Sanjay Gandhi, a key figure during the Emergency, including one where a high powered rifle was used when the leader was visiting Uttar Pradesh”, said a cable. “According to Indian intelligence, this is the third attempt on the younger Gandhi’s life,” the cable states and goes on to surmise that the attack “will eventually be blamed on revolutionary elements sponsored by outside powers.”