India, Sept. 20 -- The British government had a poor opinion of Rajiv Gandhi's performance as prime minister (1984-89) and on the eve of the 1989 general election, concluded that the atmosphere in his cabinet was that of an "oriental court", where he was "king among courtiers".

The confidential assessment of Gandhi's tenure in office was penned by the British high commissioner in New Delhi, David Goodall, and welcomed in the Foreign Office in London as an "astute and perceptive analysis". It has now been declassified and released by National Archives.

The Gandhi-led Congress lost the 1989 election. Gandhi was the focus of two detailed confidential notes by the diplomat, who wrote he had a difficult time explaining to an "incredulous" th...