A K Antony was "one of the only" leaders apart from Priyaranjan Dasmunsi who "flatly criticised" Sanjay Gandhi during a session of the All India Congress Committee in 1976 in Guwahati, during the Emergency, when the latter's political graph was on the rise, United States diplomatic cables have claimed.
The cables, made public by WikiLeaks, also said the party faction led by Antony, the Kerala unit’s president, refused to support Sanjay. He questioned Sanjay’s "rapid ascent to a position of power", asking instead, "What sacrifices has he made for the party or the country".
At the Guwahati AICC session and Youth Congress conclave, the cables said, Sanjay was the star attraction he received top billing as the prime mover behind the organisation's revitalisation and as a national leader, second only to his mother Indira Gandhi.
"He still may be number two, but Sanjay and company keep on trying harder," the cable sent on November 26, 1976 said.
Despite all the fanfare for Sanjay and the Youth Congress, the cables said, US diplomats in Delhi continue to hear and see no evidence that the quality of YC membership "improved measurably".
"Kerala Congress president A K Antony was one of the only leaders to flatly criticise the new Youth Congress and Sanjay. The other key critic was West Bengal Congress leader P R Dasmunsi," it said.
The cable went on to predict that in the next year – 1977 -- unhappiness among Congressmen and organisational ineffectiveness will become an increasing problem.
"The effect of the Guwahati session has probably been to increase unhappiness inside Congress, increase confidence among Youth Congress leaders and further diminish any air of democracy within the Congress organisation," it said.
In another cable, which talks about Sanjay's unpopularity in Kerala, it is said that talks with a variety of people in May 1976 left them with the impression that Indira's second son was "not very popular" in the state.
It said newsmen whom they met "resented" Sanjay's "rapid build up", saying he was known only for his association with Maruti. The newsmen told US officials that Sanjay was not a politician and he does not posses any of the qualities needed for political leadership.
"Predictably, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Commitee faction led by state Home Minister K Karunakaran supports Sanjay, as does one section of the Kerala Youth Congress,” stated the cable.
"The wing of KPCC led by A K Antony and the other faction of the Youth Congress do not support him. Antony and those refusing to support Sanjay question his rapid ascent to a position of power, asking themselves what sacrifices he has made for the party or the country," it said.
It said the Kerala Youth Congress is somewhat more radical than the other states and Sanjay's policies are not popular in Kerala.