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'India needs a bold, decisive PM'

By Onkar Singh in New Delhi
Last updated on: August 11, 2006 20:52 IST
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Former external affairs minister and suspended Congress leader K Natwar Singh on Friday sought to make amends with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over his controversial remarks few days back.

Addressing a press conference in New Delhi at his residence, Natwar, however, reiterated that his statements about Dr Singh were not incorrect. Natwar had ridiculed the prime minister, stating that the latter had become the prime minister of the country despite not having won even a municipal election.

"Dr Singh is a colleague but the country needs a decisive and bold prime minister," he said. When asked if he was suggesting that the country should have a new prime minister, Natwar merely said that it was for the Congress leadership to decide.

The former foreign minister replied in the negative when asked if he was going to resign following the recent developments. Natwar also refuted allegations that he had made the charges against the prime minister after being incited by Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha. "I am not a child," he said.

Seeking to clarify his position on the Iraq oil-for-food scandal, Natwar clarified that nothing can happen within the Congress party without the consent of the party president.

"Sonia Gandhi is fully aware of what transpired in Iraq during my January 2001 trip to that nation. I carried a letter from the Congress president and handed it over Tariq Aziz. It was a letter of introduction. There were only four people in the delegation and no person was added to the delegation. My son Jagat went because I had a heart operation," he said.

The suspended Congress leader had another grouse. "I am hurt because the party told the media first about the suspension and other details and later the letter was sent to me. I would give my reply in 14 days and then we will see what happens," he said.

PTI adds:

Earlier in the day, Natwar dismissed reports that he had sought an appointment with the prime minister to express regret over his (Natwar's) remarks on him.

He was talking to reporters outside Parliament just after being disallowed to make a statement in the Rajya Sabha. Asked if his applause in the Upper House during replies in the Question Hour was suggestive of any breakthrough with the Congress, he quipped, "There is no break, there is no through."

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Onkar Singh in New Delhi