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REVEALED: What US thinks of Sonia, PM, Karat

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 13:12 IST
US President Barack Obama with PM Manmohan Singh

Unveiled by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, four thousand diplomatic cables from the United States embassy in New Delhi reveal a difficult but increasingly warm relationship between India, an emerging power anxious about its security despite its size and increasing wealth, and the US, a superpower that is keen to be friends but very much on its own terms.

"The encouraging news for US interests is that whereas India, over the previous 40-odd years, had tended to quickly and suspiciously dismiss US intentions in the region, our recent improvement in relations have made Delhi much more amenable to co-operating," the Guardian quoted a briefing document sent from the US embassy in Delhi to Richard Holbrooke, Barack Obama's late special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan, on the eve of his trip to South Asia in December 2009.

Three months later, John Kerry, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, also on his way to Delhi, was told by the embassy in the Indian capital in another briefing paper that India was a 'raucous democracy', with a government that was 'a true partner' of the US.

'Corrupt or populist politicians'

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 13:12 IST
UPA chief Sonia Gandhi

There were some issues on which the two states differed, such as Iran and Myanmar, and several areas of tension -- including US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan -- but, on the whole, the news was good, said the paper.

"The US-India defence relationship" was 'progressing rapidly', sales of weapons could reach 4 billion dollars ( 2.5bn) in the coming year and India was "beginning to understand it must address the climate issue not as a poor developing nation but rather as the major economy it has become", stated the cable.

In the cables, US diplomats complain of bureaucratic inertia, a lack of capacity, oversensitivity, corrupt or populist politicians, a bureaucracy that is stuck in the era of 'the cold war' and profound suspicion of their motives, but appear to recognise that a respectful and conciliatory approach to the booming and increasingly self-confident India pays dividends, the paper added.

Karat an 'extortionist'

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 13:12 IST
CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat

The US view of Indian politicians is, however, variable. While viewing Manmohan Singh, the 77-year-old economist and prime minister, as a natural friend, Prakash Karat, the Communist party of India (Marxist) general secretary, is described as an 'extortionist'.

The failure of Sonia Gandhi, the chairman of the ruling United Progressive Alliance coalition and the Congress party president, to overcome the opposition to the nuclear deal is criticised heavily.

"With the future of Indian foreign credibility hanging in balance, Sonia Gandhi has been unable to show principled leadership even when it might benefit her party at the polls. Mrs Gandhi never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity," said one cable sent in November 2007.

Arjun Singh 'spectacularly inept'

Last updated on: December 17, 2010 13:12 IST
Dr Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Arjun Singh

A veteran former Congress minister, Arjun Singh, is described as being from the party''s 'Jurassic' wing, and that he is 'spectacularly inept'.

The public anger following the Mumbai terror attacks in November 2008 had "served as a catharsis for people to vent other long simmering grievances against the government -- its corruption, its pompous use of symbols of authority like security guards and vehicle sirens, its indifference to providing health and education services, and its paralysis on building infrastructure," said a cable sent in December 2008.