#MitrokhinArchives Yes, Howdy Modi event was organised by Indian diaspora, but who hosted Indira Gandhi's rallies in USSR and why?
Shashi Tharoor’s fake tweet, about Indira and Nehru attending a public rally in USSR, brings to the table the Mitrokhin files and Indira Gandhi’s KGB connections
Congress leader and Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor’s fake tweet about Indira and Nehru attending a public rally abroad, has brought to the table the former’s clandestine alliance with the then USSR and KGB.
In a major gaffe, Shashi Tharoor posted a photo on Twitter yesterday, with a caption: "Nehru & India Gandhi in the US in 1954. Look at the hugely enthusiastic spontaneous turnout of the American public, without any special PR campaign, NRI crowd management or hyped-up media publicity."
However, the picture of the Nehru and Indira was from Moscow 1956, not the US. After being subjected to ‘trolls’ and criticism, Tharoor corrected his mistake in another tweet saying: "I am told this picture (forwarded to me) probably is from a visit to the USSR and not the US. Even if so, it still doesn't alter the message: the fact is that former PMs also enjoyed popularity abroad. When @narendramodi is honoured, @PMOIndia is honoured; respect is for India."
The Soviet spy agency KGB organised Indira's rallies in USSR
However, the tweet has triggered a heated discussion on social media about Indira Gandhi’s clandestine connections with the USSR and KGB, the Soviet spy agency. As per the Mitrokhin Archives, a collection of secrete reports filed by Vasili Mitrokhin during his thirty years as a KGB archivist in the foreign intelligence service and the First Chief Directorate, the early official and unofficial visits of Indira Gandhi to the USSR were organised by the KGB to influence Indira, probably anticipating her rise in Indian politics after Nehru’s rule.
As per KGB files, Indira Gandhi (code-named VANO by the KGB) was one of ‘prominent Third World leaders who were unconsciously influenced by disinformation fabricated by them’!
According to the Mitrokhin archives, the KGB’s first contact with Indira Gandhi had occurred during her first visit to the Soviet Union a few months after Stalin’s death in 1953. “As well as keeping her under continuous surveillance, the Second Chief Directorate also surrounded her with handsome, attentive male admirers. Unaware of the orchestration of her welcome by the KGB, Indira was overwhelmed by the attentions lavished on her. Though she did not mention the male admirers in letters to her father, she wrote to him, “Everybody? the Russians? have been so sweet to me... I am being treated like everybody’s only daughter? I shall be horribly spoilt by the time I leave. Nobody has ever been so nice to me.” Indira wrote of a holiday arranged for her on the Black Sea, “I don’t think I have had such a holiday for years.” Later in Leningrad, she told Nehru that she was “wallowing in luxury”. Two years later Indira accompanied her father on his first official visit to the Soviet Union. Like Nehru, she was visibly impressed by the apparent successes of Soviet planning and economic modernization exhibited to them in carefully stage-managed visits to Russian factories. During her trip, Khrushchev presented her with a mink coat which became one of the favourite items in her wardrobe? despite the fact that a few years earlier she had criticized the female Indian ambassador in Moscow for accepting a similar gift,” says the report.
“Soviet attempts to cultivate Indira Gandhi during the 1950s were motivated far more by the desire to influence her father than by any awareness of her own political potential. Like both the Congress Syndicate and the CPI, Moscow still underestimated her when she became Prime Minister. During her early appearances in parliament, Mrs Gandhi seemed tongue-tied and unable to think on her feet. The insulting nickname coined by a socialist MP, ‘Dumb Doll’, began to stick. Moscow’s strategy during 1966 for the Indian elections in the following year was based on encouraging the CPI and the breakaway Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM) to join together in a left-wing alliance to oppose Mrs Gandhi and the Congress government. As well as subsidizing the CPI and some other left-wing groups during the 1967 election campaign, the KGB also funded the campaigns of several agents and confidential contacts within Congress. The most senior agent identified in the files noted by Mitrokhin was a minister codenamed ABAD, who was regarded by the KGB as “extremely influential,” the secret files further stated.
In the book titled, The World Was Going Our Way Book by Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin, there are mentions about the KGB interventions in Indian elections in favour of Indira Gandhi. “During the election campaign, the KGB also made considerable use of active measures, many of them based on forged American documents produced by Service A. An agent in the information department of the US embassy in New Delhi, codenamed MIKHAIL, provided examples of documents and samples of signatures to assist in the production of convincing forgeries. Among the operations officers who publicized the forgeries produced for the 1967 election campaign was Yuri Modin, former controller of the Cambridge ‘Magnificent Five’. In an attempt to discredit S.K. Patil, one of the leading anti-Communists in the Congress Syndicate, Modin circulated a forged letter from the US consul-general in Bombay to the American ambassador in New Delhi referring to Patil’s “political intrigues with the Pakistanis” and to the large American subsidies supposedly given to him. Though Patil was one of the most senior Congress politicians defeated at the election, it remains difficult to assess how much his defeat owed to KGB active measures,” Mitrokhin revealed in the book.