Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo wrote in his book that he never saw former Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as an "important political player" but got along very well with her successor S Jaishankar.
Swaraj was the Indian External Affairs in the first Narendra Modi government (2014-19). She was succeeded by S Jaishankar in May 2019 when she quit electoral politics. She died shortly after in August 2019.
In his book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love, Pompeo used describes Swaraj somewhat disparagingly, using the American slang words "goofball" and "heartland political hack" for her. He, however, wrote about Jaishankar in very goof terms.
Pompeo wrote, "On the Indian side, my original counterpart was not an important player on the Indian foreign policy team. Instead, I worked much more closely with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, a close and trusted confidant of Prime Minister Narendra Modi."
A confidant of then US President Donald Trump, Pompeo was the CIA Director in his administration from 2017 to 2018 and then served as the Secretary of State from 2018 to 2021.
Pompeo wrote, "My second Indian counterpart was Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. In May 2019, we welcomed 'J' as India's new foreign minister. I could not have asked for a better counterpart. I love this guy. English is one of the seven languages he speaks, and his is somewhat better than mine...Professional, rational, and a fierce defender of his boss and his country...We hit it off immediately. In our first meeting, I was bemoaning, in very diplomatic speech, that his predecessor had not been particularly helpful.
"He (Jaishankar) said that he could see why I had trouble with his predecessor, a goofball and a heartland political hack. 'Careful, I'm a heartland political hack!' I replied in jest. He laughed, noting that if that were true, it would make me the first heartland political hack who had ever been an editor on the Harvard Law Review. Well played, J."
"J" refers to Jaishankar.
Commenting on Pompeo's words, Jaishankar told PTI, "I have seen a passage in Secretary Pompeo's book referring to Smt Sushma Swaraj ji. I always held her in great esteem and had an exceptionally close and warm relationship with her. I deplore the disrespectful colloquialism used for her."
In his book, Pompeo also says American neglect of India was a decades-long bipartisan failure.
He wrote, "We are natural allies, as we share a history of democracy, a common language, and ties of people and technology. India is also a market with enormous demand for American intellectual property and products. These factors, plus its strategic location in South Asia, made India the fulcrum of my diplomacy to counteract Chinese aggression.
"In my mind, a counter-China bloc made up of the United States, India, Japan, Australia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the European Union would have an economic weight at least three times that of China. I chose to devote serious quantities of time and effort to help make India the next great American ally."
Pompeo's book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love was released on Tuesday. It's published by Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.
(With PTI inputs)