People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 19

May 17, 2009


CIA Man In US Embassy Just Before Indian Elections

Debasish Chakraborty

In the light of reports in the media about the US Charge d’ Affaires (ambassador) meeting both the Telugu Desam president N Chandrababu Naidu and Praja Rajyam party president Chiranjeevi in Hyderabad on May 12, 2009 and discussing about our current political situation, we publish an expanded version of this article which was published in Ganashakti (April 7, 2009) as it would be relevant in the present context.

THE 2009 Lok Sabha polls in the country mark an important vantage point where for the first time in the political-electoral history, an alternative possibility of a non-Congress and non-BJP government is indeed blooming in the shape of a third front with the Left at its core. This unique formation of the third front has given a call for a politics against both communalism and imperialism and indicates that it would be a qualitatively different government from the neo-liberal consensus that the fragmented Congress-led UPA and the BJP-led NDA have been subscribing to in the past and continue to do so even in the face of disastrous global economic crisis sparked off by these policies. This united opposition of several secular democratic parties and the Left towards the neo-liberal consensus and the politics of resistance that the Left represents have irked the ruling classes of our country along with its imperialist bosses. In this regard, it is but quite natural that US imperialism would be worried about the prospect of the third front and the Left in the coming election which might reverse the neo-liberal policy regime to a great extent if it assumes power at the centre.

For some time now, the attack against the Left in its strongholds, particularly in West Bengal, has been greatly intensified. The direct and indirect role of imperialism and the agencies financed by them has been exposed in the Left media in the state.  The Left Front leaders have also openly alleged that imperialism is trying to destabilise the state.

In this context, political observers have noted the appointment of Peter Burleigh as the acting head of the US embassy in India. A veteran officer of the CIA, Peter Burleigh had accompanied the CIA chief Leon Panetta to meet home minister P Chidambaram in Delhi’s North Bloc in March 2009. This was the first time the chief of CIA was accorded a meeting with the country’s home minister in India. The CPI(M) Polit Bureau reacting to this meeting in a statement on March 20, 2009: The CIA is notorious for its interventions in the political affairs of various countries including destabilising governments considered inimical to US interests. This is a pointer of how things have changed under the Manmohan Singh government. India is fast becoming like Pakistan where the CIA and FBI chiefs meet with the interior minister and prime minister. It may also be recalled the then home minister L K Advani’s visit to the CIA headquarters in US during the NDA regime marked a deepening relationship with that organisation.



The US embassy website had the following on Burleigh’s recent appointment:

Ambassador A Peter Burleigh assumed his duties as Chargé d'Affaires of the US Mission in India on April 6, 2009.  His interim appointment by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reflects the US government's emphasis on assuring highest-level representation and continuity in US Indian relations.  Ambassador Burleigh's substantial diplomatic experience and many years in South Asia provides leadership of the US Mission in India and continues to nurture the important bilateral relationship until a permanent Ambassador is named in the months ahead.

As for his ‘substantial diplomatic experience in South Asia’, Peter Burleigh was in India during 1973-75 when he moved a lot in Guwahati, Gangtok, Patna and Bhubaneswar although his centre of operation was Kolkata. Just a few weeks before newly independent Bangladesh prime minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s assassination, Burleigh shifted his centre of operation from Kolkata to Dhaka and after that Sheikh Mujib was brutally assassinated along with his family in his own house. Burleigh knows the eastern region of India very well and understands the Leftwing politics of Bengal. Besides Bengali, Burleigh is also fluent in Hindi, Urdu, Sinhalese, and Nepali. Burleigh was the first choice of senior George Bush during the Gulf war of 1990 for the post of US ambassador in Baghdad. But since the CIA did not release Burleigh for that duty, Burleigh could never become the US ambassador in Baghdad. He also served as Principal Deputy Asst. Secretary for Intelligence & Research in the US State Department during 1989-91. Earlier he was Deputy Asst. Secretary for Near Eastern & South Asian Affairs during 1987-89.

Burleigh is currently serving as a stop-gap arrangement to replace the outgoing US ambassador David Mulford in Delhi. Sources in Washington have informed that Burleigh is the correct choice for the Obama administration in the current situation of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Recently, a higher official of US consulate has met twice some representatives of a few Muslim religious organisations in a central Kolkata hotel. This kind of interventions by the CIA agents, FBI and US embassy in the internal politics of our country has become a norm from 1999 when L K Advani became the home minister.



The 61 MPs of the Left in the last 14th Lok Sabha consistently fought against the neo-liberal policies and it is because of the Left’s opposition that several policies like financial liberalisation, FDI in retail etc. could not be implemented, despite Congress-led UPA’s keen interest in pursuing those legislations in favour of the big capital and foreign MNCs. It is now evident that the Indian economy is not facing as severe an economic crisis as the rest of the world precisely because of prevention of opening up of financial sector due to the opposition of the Left in parliament. In the current conjuncture, the IMF-World Bank dictated neo-liberal economic policies have led to the global economic meltdown and US imperialism along with the ruling classes of our country wants to liberalise the financial and the retail sector to get out of this crisis at the cost of the rising miseries of the common people of India. Furthermore, the staunch opposition of the Left against the India-US nuclear deal has also disgruntled the imperialist bosses and its junior partner, India’s ruling classes. Thus, the major motive of the grand alliance of an array of opposition forces comprising the Congress-Trinamul-‘Maoists’ nexus with the backing of imperialist forces is striving hard to displace the Left and marginalise its presence and influence in the parliament.

It is worth mentioning that out of the 61 Left MPs in the last parliament who were thoroughly vocal against the politics/policies of neo-liberalism, communalism and imperialism, West Bengal contributed 35 MPs. In this respect, the American establishment wants to control and diminish the presence/importance of the Left in the forthcoming parliamentary elections. Since West Bengal sends a big chunk of Left MPs, the US intelligence agency CIA has currently targeted West Bengal to reduce the numbers of Left from the state. This strategy of marginalising/displacing the Left by the CIA is not new. In 1957 itself, the CIA funded the Congress generously to topple the first communist government in Kerala. The same strategy of financially supporting the Congress to restrict the role of the Left in the politics of West Bengal was repeated in the decade of 1970s. The former US ambassador in India, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, in his autobiography,
A Dangerous Place, unambiguously confessed of such support to the Congress party against the Left. He said in his autobiography that the CIA helped financially only twice to the Congress party, once in Kerala and another time in Bengal when the communists were clear favourites in the elections. Moynihan’s claim was further clarified by the biographer of Ellsworth Bunker — the US ambassador in India from 1956-61. Howard B Schaffer, who wrote Ellsworth Bunker:  Global Troubleshooter, Vietnam Hawk pointed out that the victorious election result for the Left in Kerala was a matter of concern for the Washington and CIA financially sponsored the Congress-led anarchic situation to create lawlessness in the state. In the sixth chapter of the above book, he wrote ‘In Nehru’s India it is stated that to restrict further creation of Leftwing Kerala like situation such a decision of funding the Congress was taken.’



History has taught us how the CIA-sponsored military coups and political interventions have displaced the progressive and Leftwing regimes in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Today, the State heads – Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and Raphael Correa of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador respectively – have also alleged the interventions of CIA in their domestic politics against the progressive forces. It is an important question whether the CIA is planning to repeat the history in India in general and Bengal in particular, more so in the current context when the Left has strengthened itself with the highest ever contingent sent in the last parliament and is determined to fight neo-liberalism, communalism and imperialism tooth and nail. We have to also understand that the eruptions of lawless anarchy and violence in Bengal with separatist cause of Gorkhaland, Kamtapuri, greater Coochbehar, demand for greater Jharkhand and Maoist-sponsored violence in Lalgarh in alliance with the local Trinamul and Congress goons are not spontaneous events. It is a planned and well calculated, coordinated effort by the reactionary alliance of separatist forces, anarchist violence, opportunist Trinamul and neo-liberal Congress.

The politically conscious electorate of our country in general and West Bengal in particular must understand the reactionary entente between the Trinamul and the neo-liberal policy regime and its conspiracy with the class enemies of the Left with a grand alliance of anarchic-extremist politics, rightwing policies and imperialist backing. In this respect, the politically matured voter would surely give their verdict against the neo-liberal alliances of both Congress-Trinamul-imperialist nexus and the communal BJP-led NDA and strengthen the prospect of a third alternative at the centre with Leftwing political forces as its epicenter and vote for a politics of resistance that the Left represents.