791.00/12–1550: Telegram

The Ambassador in India (Henderson) to the Secretary of State


1492. Rumors of Patel’s death began circulating in Delhi this morning three or four hours before announcement was issued. In spite of ill health his death has come as great shock and there is much speculation as to how it will affect future of internal and foreign policies. Some of Patel’s adherents are dejected and feel that without steadying influence his powerful personality India will follow erratic unpredictable course at least until figures not yet in sight appear on scene to restore balance. Other adherents expressed hope that his death will sober Nehru and that latter all conscious of his increased responsibilities, will act in much more restrained manner than hitherto.

It is too early for Embassy make any predictions. There will undoubtedly be number changes in government, party, labor union and other circles as leaders who owed their importance to Patel’s support will be gradually replaced. Whether Patel’s disappearance will result in split of party is not certain but danger of such split exists since some of Patel’s adherents who are in working committee may decide to adopt strong attitude and endeavor make use of their present majority instead of quietly handing over power to Nehru minority.