An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Congress Betrayal: How Nehru and Krishna Menon conspired against India in run upto the 1961 Indo-China War

VK Krishna Menon was one person who, while remaining under the wings of Nehru, could be considered as the person who probably defined the “Leftist” leanings of our polity and betrayed India’s cause with his links to Soviets and the Chinese. Many prominent high level Ministers and leaders distrusted him at that time. In fact, Sardar Patel (who wanted him out of favor, but could not due to his proximity to Nehru) had appointed a spy on Menon in the UK office, Sudhir Ghosh, PRO at India House. Menon obviously was smart enough to get Ghosh out of UK soon.[2]

During his UK days, Krishna Menon was involved in the “Jeep Scandal”, which was the first attempt by an Indian politician (then a bureaucrat) to weaken the Indian Defense Forces for personal gain (and probably for that of his own Espionage masters – Communist, in this case).

Jeep Scandal: VK Krishna Menon was the High Commissioner to UK, when the deal with a UK company was done to buy the Jeeps for the Indian Army. They were rejected by the Indian Army as they were sub standard. But they had to be used as they had been paid for. Due to the political and media pressure he resigned but was hired as the Union Defense Minister by Nehru. As soon as he became the Defense Minister, the case against the company which was the front, was dropped by the Government.[1]
Menon was also of great interest to the British and US intelligence services. His ambitiion and leftist relationships were noted by even CIA in 1951 [5]:

“The potential for [communist] infiltration of the [Indian] armed forces is probably enhanced by the fact that Defense Minister V. K. Krishna Menon is a member of the extreme left wing of the Congress Party and has associated with known Communists and fellow travelers. He is highly ambitious and would probably cooperate with and accept support from any group which might enhance his prospects for becoming Prime Minister.”

He was also known to take drugs (“illegal recreational drugs”) in his time in UK. The MI5 files describe Menon as “a sick man whose relations with fellows can never be normal or happy” and “utterly unscrupulous…impairing the whole conduct of India’s foreign relations…”[4]

If he had simply done rotten deals as an ambassador, that would still be Ok… but the foolish and the naive Nehru installed him as the Indian Defense Minister AFTER such a scandal! The amount of damage that he did there had been incalculable! Specially given, that it was right during his stint that the Chinese War of 1961 took place and India lost terribly!

FM Sam Maneckshaw took Menon on in the year before the China War on National Security and how Menon had undermined it as the Defense Minister – who obviously was not very happy. The defeat in the war against China was as much due to neglect and treachery of the politicians like Menon and Nehru as due bad preparation and strategy on part of General Kaul.

Even Nehru’s obvious and shameless betrayal of India’s national interest and Defense is noted in Parliament itself![6]

From angry words thrown at India, the Chinese Reds moved to actions against it: the frontier post of Longju in India’s North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) was seized; Indian patrols were taken prisoner; Nehru made the shamefaced admission that he had kept secret from Parliament the fact that the Chinese two years before had built a road through Indian territory linking Tibet and the Chinese province of Sinkiang.

The uncovering of this piece of critical information about the Chinese designs was a feat of great espionage from the Indian intelligence in London (obviously despite the gaze of Menon!)[7]

Also read:  Twisters, Murthy and Cricket

An intelligence operative at the Indian High Commission in London who went by the name “Singh” seemed to know about Wignall’s permission from the Nepal government to climb Nalkankar (7,100m) and approached him to see if he could slip into Tibet and climb Gurla Mandhata (7728m). From that vantage point, it would have been easy to pick up information on any Chinese military activity. From the account in his book, Spy on the Roof of the World, Wignall appears to have willingly agreed to be a spy. But he didn’t tell the rest of his team. As it turned out, the Chinese were right when they arrested the three expedition members on the slopes of Nalkankar for being on a spying mission. Wignall managed to gather information even during his detention about a strategic highway the Chinese were building towards western Tibet, and an estimate of the garrison strength at Taklakot. But this information didn’t do the Indians much good, since Nehru and Menon ignored it and were caught unawares when the Sino-Indian war erupted in 1962 during which large numbers of Indian soldiers, including Nepali Gorkhas, were killed in the icy mountains of Arunachal Pradesh and Askai Chin.

How this road – which the Indian Army knew about but was instructed NOT to safeguard .. went onto create the conduit for war ammunition can probably be elaborated by a defense personnel better. But just as Nehru held a secret from the Nation, Krishna Menon, instructed Lt. General Thimayya to NOT safeguard that road which the Chinese constructed with an obvious goal in mind:

Cross-questioning India’s Army Chief of Staff. Lieut. General K. S. Thimayya, he (Morarji Desai) asked when he first knew about the road. In 1957, said the general, and he had offered proposals to safeguard the security of India, but they were turned down by the Defense Minister, lean, rancorous V. K. Krishna Menon. “Why?” asked Desai. “Because,” replied Thimayya, “he said that the enemy was on the other side [i.e., Pakistan], not on this side.”

Such was the treachery of Krishna Menon that General Thimayya had threatened to leave the Army than continue with the betrayal!

Worst is that while the Chinese were occupying the Indian territory, Krishna Menon was making a case in the UN for the Chinese AGAINST the Tibetans! And Nehru was busy drumming up support for himself and his buddy Krishna Menon as the Defense Minister in the Indian Parliament and Press [6] – who were obviously and clearly done in by his eloquence! No wonder, that Indians even today look at this family and its shameless eloquence-sans-substance for our salvation!

At the opening of Parliament, Nehru further dazzled and delighted Indians by warning that “any aggression” against the small states of the Himalayas would be considered as aggression against India, and won cheers with his pledge that “if war is thrust upon us we shall fight with all our strength!” He even took time out to give support and tribute to Defense Minister Krishna Menon and won for them both an overwhelming voice vote of confidence. The very newspapers that had been accusing Nehru for months of dereliction of duty cried their “unreserved agreement” with Nehru’s policy. The Indian Express, formerly his most savage critic, promised that “in his new, bold and unequivocal stand, Mr. Nehru is assured of the unstinted support of all parties and of the people.”

And with the case made, and caution thrown to the winds – wintery and snowy – Nehru went back to his cocoon until a later day… when he would be visited by the entire fury of Chinese War.. and Indian people were visited by the Treachery of its politicians – Krishna Menon and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Last week India appeared to be a harmonious whole, astir with a new sense of its own nationalism. At the west coast city of Ahmedabad, 400,000 people had thronged together to hold darshan with Panditji Nehru and hear him speak. Said Nehru, grandly: “I am trying, and will try, to reciprocate your love.” Up in the Himalayas, winter was closing in. As deep snows and raging blizzards block the high passes, there is a widespread feeling in India that there will be no more trouble with China until next spring or summer. Suppose that then the Red Chinese grab off even more of India’s northern border regions? No one was ready with an answer, but no one seemed to feel the need of one just now. Having blown off steam, the Indian Parliament, press and public was back in the comforting and protective shade of the big banyan tree.

Meanwhile here is what the archives in the British Intelligence [3] say about VK Krishna Menon. The Ms. Tunnard mentioned in this piece is Bridget Tunnard of the Indian League, who was the mistress of this “life-long bachelor”!

These six files document the Security Service´s interest between 1929 and 1955 in the Indian lawyer Krishna Menon, who was a friend of Nehru, Labour councillor for St Pancras and leader of the Indian League in London. He spent most of this time living in the UK, and was appointed High Commissioner in 1947, when his close links to Communists acted to block the sharing of British information with not only India, but also Pakistan, for fear that the two new states would compare their treatment by the British.

A warrant to intercept Menon´s correspondence was taken out in December 1933, identifying him as an “important worker in the Indian Revolutionary Movement”, and his links to Communist circles were quickly established (KV 2/2509, 1929-1941). This file contains numerous reports of Menon´s contacts, activities and speeches, and highlights his role in the anti-war movement. This continues in KV 2/2510 (1941-1944). KV 2/2511(1944-1948) covers his readmission to the Labour Party, from which he had been expelled for his Communist links, and his attempts to gain selection as the party candidate in Dundee and elsewhere in the 1945 general election. It also covers his appointment as Indian High Commissioner in London in 1947.

Menon´s elevation to this post increased the Service´s concerns about him. The Deputy Director-General minuted (in KV 2/2512, 1949-1951) in May 1949: “Whatever his politics may be, and they appear to go fairly far to the Left, MENON is clearly dishonest, immoral an opportunist and an intriguer…whether or not MENON´s retention as High Commissioner is the lesser of two evils, the relations between him and Miss TUNNARD…are of considerable importance.” The matter of Communist influence at the High Commission was raised at the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), in discussions that were not minuted. A copy of the Director-General´s statement on the subject to the JIC is at serial 148b, and there is a list of suspected Communists at the High Commission at serial 197a. The file also includes suggestions that Menon was improperly using the funds of the India League, and that he was taking illegal drugs (for instance, at serial 199a). This file covers discussions about the impossibility of passing sensitive information to or through the Indian High Commission, and how that in turn prevented similar information being shared with Pakistan.

KV 2/2513 (1951-1953) covers the period when Menon was replaced as High Commissioner by G B Kher, and shows how Kher was frequently embarrassed by Menon acting as if he still represented India in London and forcing himself into various diplomatic events. These tensions continue into KV 2/2514 (1953-1955) which also covers Menon´s attempts to be entrusted with the post of Foreign Minister.

Reference Links:

Also read:  Another one bites the dust

1. Remembering a War
2. Left out by history
3. British Archives on Krishna Menon
4. ‘VK Menon: A Commie, druggie and lover’.
5. There was a big-time mole in 1961 as well !
6. “The Shade of the Big Banyan”; TIME Dec 14, 1959
7. “I didn’t know they were spies”

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2 Comments
  1. parwatisingari says

    Krishna Menon? well Nehru was no prince charming, my gran refereed to him as syphilitic Joe.

    1. Desh Kapoor says

      LOL, Parwati! Well, whatever Krishna Menon did was because of backing and inspiration from Nehru. I agree with your grandad though 🙂

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