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I will fight my way out: Natwar

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
April 29, 2006 00:39 IST
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Former external affairs minister Natwar Singh has said that he is eager to have his name cleared in the Oil for Food scam.

Complete Coverage: The Volcker Report

In an exclusive interview to India TV, Natwar denied having any differences with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the pace at which investigation was being carried out on the charges levelled by the Volcker Committee, which probed the United Nations Oil for Food scam.

"My only plea was that the process of investigation should be speeded up so that my name is cleared. My hands are clean and so is my son," he claimed.

He declined to answer the query on why the Enforcement Directorate had not questioned Congress president Sonia Gandhi, especially since the party's name figured in the Volcker committee report. Natwar claimed that everything was overboard and that he had done nothing illegal.

"I am astounded by the figures, which have been quoted in the media. I am only aware of a transaction of Rs 22 lakh. Former Iraq prime minister Tariq Aziz had written some letters to me and I had responded to those letters only," he said.

Appearing confident, Natwar said, " Even if I am held guilty, I will fight. I have been a Nehruvian and a Gandhian for the last 53 years and I have great respect for Congress chief Sonia Gandhi."

The beleaguered leader did not think that his recent utterances on Nepal amounting to criticism of the government policies had hastened the report of the Virendra Dayal Committee. "Yes, it is too much of a coincidence. I have not criticised the prime minister on issues related to foreign policy but have merely expressed my views in democratic manner," he said.

Natwar did not elaborate on his relationship with Andaleep Sehgal and others, who were been interrogated by the ED.

The timing of the interview, which was chosen by Natwar himself, has surprised many in the Congress party. Party spokesman Rajeev Shukla said that the interview amounted to gross indiscipline and that the issue will be discussed at the highest level.

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi