U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell announced her resignation Monday after only two years on the job, sparking some speculation overseas that the administration may have been looking to replace her.
Powell only arrived in India in April 2012, and these diplomatic posts typically last three years.
The buzz in New Delhi is that Powell’s departure may be related to ongoing tensions over the uproar in India after the arrest of Devyani Khobragade, an Indian diplomat in New York, on charges of falsifying visa documents for her maid/nanny and then lying to investigators about what she was paying the domestic worker. The January arrest, during which Khobragade was stripped search, was condemned by the Indian government, and the U.S. embassy in New Delhi was held accountable.
Powell will be leaving as India’s month-long election comes to an end, and the country’s next prime minister is chosen.
A senior administration official, acknowledging that Powell was leaving her post at the end of May, said in an e-mail to the Loop, “I assure you that it is in no way related [to] the Khobragade affair” and her decision “was not unexpected.”
And at a Monday briefing, deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf strongly denied that Powell’s resignation was anything but a 37-year career diplomat retiring after serving posts all over the world, including ambassadorships in Pakistan, Nepal and Uganda. “All the rumors and speculation are, quite frankly, totally false,” Harf said.
Powell’s decision to leave “is in no way related to any tensions…,” Harf said. “There’s no big behind-the-scenes story here.”