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In a speech delivered at the Kerala Provisional Conference in 1928, Nehru had spelt out his international assessments: ‘No danger threatens India from any direction; and even if there is any danger we shall cope with it.’ No surprise then that when the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army, General Sir Rob Lockhart, went to Nehru with a formal defence paper that needed a policy directive from the prime minister, Nehru had exclaimed: ‘Rubbish! This in turn created a vacuum in the decision-making chain, into which the civil servants stepped.
Although, when cornered, he was not averse to using it—as in the case of Kashmir in 1947-48 and then Goa in 1961—for the most part, he talked disarmament, non-alignment and Panchsheel. Despite repeated warnings from the army and the various committees, Nehru did very little to address the shortcomings of the army.…Nehru was never comfortable with the armed forces. instilled in him a desire to downgrade India’s officer cadre rather than tap their leadership potential and assimilate them into the machinery of government.
Threatening Thimayya of ‘possible political repercussions if the matter became public’ Krishna Menon ended the meeting. However, after Thimayya’s departure, news of his resignation was deliberately leaked to the media while the subsequent rescinding of the letter was held back. Thimayya resignation made banner headlines the next morning.
…On 2 September 1959, the prime minister once again rose in Parliament to make a statement.
This excerpt from Shiv Kunal Verma’s thoroughly researched book shows how Nehru and Krishna Menon conspired to discredit General Thimayya, setting in motion a chain of events that contributed to India’s rout in the Himalayas.
The political manoeuvring by Gandhi in 1938 to sideline Subhas Chandra Bose in the presidential race of the Congress Party virtually handed Nehru the prime ministership of independent India.
He had got away with the admission in Parliament earlier in the day only because the triple whammy—ongoing clashes on the border, the construction of National Highway G219 across the Aksai Chin and the Khenzemane and Longju incidents—had come as a shock to the members of the House.
…Thimayya wanted Nehru to undo the mistake; but should the prime minister formally withdraw his statement about deploying the army and revert to the previous arrangement, he would be committing political hara-kiri.
Many other countries that had become independent after World War II fell prey to military coups (the most pertinent example being Pakistan)…. Shrinagesh, Thimayya had made no bones about the fact that he was deeply distressed by the continuous neglect of the army.
As he drove from South Block to Teen Murti, Thimayya was acutely aware of the prime minister’s deep distrust of the military. Publicly Nehru was seen to be fond of Timmy; however, behind his back, the prime minister adopted tactics that clearly indicated that he viewed Thimayya as a rival who could challenge his position as the undisputed head of the Indian Union.
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