Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, Volume E-7,
Released by the Office of the Historian
MEMORANDUM FOR THE PRESIDENT
FROM: Henry A. Kissinger
SUBJECT: Indian Political Crisis
Although it is difficult to characterize the division within the party --which has existed since 'before independence -- it is essentially between the old guard party politicians and Mrs. Gandhi's govern-mental wing of the party. Two powerful figures who usually act independently -- Home Minister Chavan and Deputy Prime Minister Desai -- have joined the Old Guard.
trouble 'began at a party meeting last week in
On Sunday, both Chavan and Desai apparently supported Sanjiva Reddy -- the speaker of the lower house of parliament and a member of the Old Guard -- against Mrs. Gandhi's candidate, Acting President Giri. After Reddy's selection, Giri announced that he would run as an independent, and Mrs. Gandhi 'began moves -- so far unproductive --to reverse the choice. Since that time, Giri has announced he will resign as President --although he clearly intends to stay in the race. The completely non-political Chief Justice Mohammed Hidayatullah would succeed him.
The Indian presidency has been a largely ceremonial office, but this has been due primarily to the stability of twenty years of large Congress Party majorities. Instability in some state governments and the loss of others to the opposition have already made the position more important -- constitutionally, the President, not the Prime Minister, has the power of intervention -- and with the prospect of a coalition government in New Delhi in 1972, it has become even more important for Mrs. Gandhi to have a friend in the office.
Today, Desai resigned from the cabinet, although it is not yet clear why. Presumably his opposition to Mrs. Gandhi's nationalization scheme played some part in his resignation or dismissal as Finance Minister -- his substantive cabinet post -- and with this gone he saw no point in continuing in the functionless office of Deputy Prime Minister. There may well be much broader implications to his resignation, although it is not clear whether this signals a move to oust Mrs. Gandhi. At last report, Chavan was still in the cabinet.
Relation to the Trip
advance man in
believe, above all, that any decision to cancel your visit would have to come
from the Indians. Therefore, we are cabling
Source: Vol E7, State Department documents.