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Volcker report: Natwar Singh rejects demand for resignation, claims PM's support

Source: PTI
Last updated on: November 05, 2005 13:12 IST
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External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh Saturday rejected demands for his resignation in the wake of a United Nations report naming him as a beneficiary in Iraqi oil pay-offs and contested its author Paul Volcker's statement that he was asked to respond on allegations against him.

"Why should I? The Bharatiya Janata Party can't decide who the foreign minister of India will be," he told NDTV in an interview, ruling out the possibility of his resignation.

Natwar also made it clear that he has the full support of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

He said that not for a moment did the thought of resignation cross his mind ever since the controversy broke out a week ago and claimed that he enjoyed the full confidence of both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

"I am told that I am doing a good job so do you expect me to go to the prime minister and say that since I am doing a good job I am putting in my papers," he said.

Asked what his reaction would be if his portfolio was changed in a reshuffle, he said, he was in public life and if you can't take the heat in the kitchen then you go out.

Singh said he had a lot of other interests like reading and writing. He enjoyed life, has a good family and a circle of friends.

Singh said the allegations against him and the Congress party were "outrageous" and that there was no involvement of either in any oil deal that had allegedly taken place during Saddam Hussein's regime during the UN-applied sanctions.                                                                               

Singh said as a diplomat the only emotion he was allowed was that of "controlled indignation" against this "outrageous" report.

The external affairs minister said he had nothing to do with Swiss oil exporter Masefield Export and he had never seen a barrel in his life or knew how to procure oil.

About the links between his son Jagat Singh and Andleep Seghal of Hamdan Export, which had bought oil, he said the two were friends, but they had nothing to do with Seghal's business dealings.

He said he had met Sonia during the last one week and she was "quite upset" about the party and himself being sullied in the report.

Questioning Volcker's statement Friday that those named in the report were given notice and their comments sought, Singh asked why Volcker did not send him or the Congress party a notice.

He said allegations in the report were an attempt to malign one of the well-known, oldest, democratic and secular parties in the world.

Singh said as a Congress Working Comittee member, he had the backing of the party also.

About the visit of his son to Iraq and to Jordan where moneys were allegedly stashed in a bank, he said Jagat Singh was married to a Jordanian girl and he had gone to spend some time with her family. Jagat was entitled to accompany him to Iraq as part of a party delegation.

Also, Jordan was a transit route to go to Iraq.

About his party functionary Anil Mathrani going to Jordan around the time the payments were made, he said Mathrani was capable of defending himself.

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