Indira Gandhi had a tense relationship with US President, a known fact in polity circles. Indira Gandhi had a remarkably cordial relationship with Nixon’s predecessor, Lyndon Johnson. The then US President met Indira Gandhi during India’s tumultuous 1971 year. Indira’s plea on behalf of refugees facing persecution by the Pakistani military in East Pakistan fell to deaf ears. In fact, Nixon’s attitude was a snub to the infamous pride of Indira Gandhi. Passed down through Nehru generations.
According to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the output of the tense Indira-Nixon meeting was unprintable private remarks from Nixon’s behalf. However, Indira’s haughty personality demanded respect and Nixon fell in awe of the domineering personality that Indira commanded. Indira’s demeanor with attractive makeup and silk sarees allowed India to perpetuate a different image to the West. Indira’s personality was befitting of broadcasting an ambiguous civilization that had flourished in India before the British invasion.
Indira calculated Nixon’s attitude and resorted to another strategy to win American hearts. In a compelling speech, Indira appealed to the American interests, “I have come here looking for a deeper understanding of the situation in our part of the world”.
Indira’s plea to the Americans had immediate repercussions. Even Kissinger changed his opinion of the lady. According to him, “Mrs. Gandhi, who was as formidable as she was condescending, had no illusions about what Nixon was up to. She faced her own conflicting pressures.
Her Parliament would be meeting in two weeks, thirsting for blood. Though she had contributed no little to the crisis atmosphere, by now it had its own momentum, which, if she did not master it, might overwhelm her”.
Kissinger further commented on Gandhi’s ability to “relentlessly pursuing India’s national interest with single-mindedness and finesse and respected her strength even when they were hurtful to US national interest”.
Even Kissinger admitted that Gandhi had outwitted Nixon in their encounters. Kissinger admits, “Nixon had no time for Mrs. Gandhi’s condescending manner… he suspected that in pursuit of her purposes she had in fact fewer scruples than he.”