New Delhi: The Indian establishment had
prior information that US journalist Seymour Hersh, who
alleged that former Prime Minister Morarji Desai was a CIA
mole, had actually contacted some Indian officials before
making such serious charges in his book.
However, the then Foreign Minister P V Narasimha Rao told
Parliament in 1983 that Hersh had never contacted any Indian
official before making the serious allegations against Desai
in his book `The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White
House`, according to recently declassified MEA files.
The documents also show that Indian diplomats had even
pointed out to Hersh that he had made an error by describing
Desai as a member of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi`s Cabinet in
In his book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist had
alleged that Desai was the "most important" informer of CIA
and was paid USD 20,000 yearly by the agency to pass
information during the Indo-Pak war in 1971.
"Mr Hersh has, however, been in touch with the embassy
since it is a common practice for embassies in the United
States to keep in contact with prominent journalists. In such
informal contacts, the substance of the said allegations was
mentioned to some of our officers who pointed out that during
the period (1971), Shri Morarji Desai was not even in the
Cabinet," says a note on the controversy in the MEA files.
It was part of a "note for supplementaries" as a homework
for a parliamentary discussion on the issue, which was to be
held on August 18, 1983. This paragraph is marked "for the
FM`s information only" which Narasimha Rao reportedly did not
reveal to the House.