K F Rustamji was special security officer to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for six years. A police officer, Rustamji was his shadow and knew inside out of his master. He used to keep a diary in which he had noted down even the minutest details. He allowed his friend P V Rajagopal to publish those notes.
“It would be difficult for a person who has not known JN from close to imagine what a petty, cantankerous man he could be at times. How rude and arrogant and full of prima donna tantrums – how irascible and selfish in small things! How childish and unbearably inconsiderate he was, not only to me but to those who were supposed to be his trusted advisors! And more than anything else, how impossibly sure he could be of himself and his dictums,” Rustamji notes in his diary.
Although Rustamji adored Nehru and bend over backwards to make his boss’s life comfortable, he was sacked after six years of dedicated service.
Kushwant Singh, journalist and a great admirer of Nehru, was also aware of the immoral and nasty side of Nehru. According to Singh, “Nehru treated Whites with more courtesy than his countrymen.” Singh further writes, “…he spoke on the same level with Whites but tended to talk down to Indians. At times he could forget his manners.”
Nehru used to lose his temper in during visits of foreign dignitaries. Once Mynarmar (then Burma) Prime Minister U Nu had to advise him not to lose his temper. If his breakfast was late, he would stormed into the kitchen or servants’ quarters to berate his cook. Once on a visit to Sira (in Mysore), “he barged into the kitchen in a temper, like Jesus among the moneychangers, and almost chased out all the cooks from there,” notes Rustamji. Even before he became prime minister, he slapped the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee in full view of the crowd because the microphone went dead while he was speaking.
Nehru as well as Indira Gandhi were very particular about their public image. Nehru insisted that “every photograph taken by our photographers be shown to him before being released to the press. If one had caught him yawning, asleep or picking his nose, he tore it up with his own hands,” writes Khushwant Singh in his book, Why I supported Emergency.