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Congress suspends Natwar Singh

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: August 09, 2006 01:07 IST
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The Congress party has suspended former external affairs minister and party leader K Natwar Singh from the party's primary membership.

The decision was taken at the party's disciplinary committee meeting held at the party headquarters in New Delhi late Tuesday night.

Interacting with media persons at a press conference, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that Natwar has been given two weeks to explain why he moved a privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the Rajya Sabha on the leakage of Justice R S Pathak committee report on the Volcker commission report.

The three-member disciplinary committee headed by former Kerala chief minister A K Antony met to discuss the uttering by Natwar on the Pathak report and quickly decided him to suspend him from the party.

The congress party charged Natwar for misusing his position during his trip to Iraq in January 2001. He was also charged with expanding the delegation without authority by including his son Jagat Singh and his friend Andaleeb Sehgal in it and introducing them to the Iraqi authorities.

"This is not the final action. If the disciplinary committee is satisfied with his reply then the matter would end there otherwise further action could be taken against him," Mukherjee said.

"I would not give the letter to you until he received the show cause letter and studied its contents," he said, adding that the parliamentary party had its own procedure and would deal with him accordingly.

The show cause notice is expected to be sent to him either late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

PTI adds:

The Bharatiya Janata Party has termed the decision as an attempt to defend Congress president Sonia Gandhi from charges that she had sent a letter through him to Iraqi authorities for oil contracts.

"It is a typical Congress culture to sacrifice its members when it comes to protecting the party chief from trouble," BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar told PTI.

"In this case, the Congress moved ahead to desert Natwar Singh when it clearly emerged it would otherwise become difficult for the party to defend Sonia Gandhi over the charges that she had sent a letter to Iraqi authorities through him for oil deals," he said.  

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi