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Estranged Natwar to reveal it all in his book

Source: PTI
August 20, 2006 21:30 IST
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Former external affairs ninister and suspended Congress party leader Natwar Singh has said he will soon write a book to reveal why the Indian government acted on the Volcker report on Iraqi oil-for-food controversy.

"No government in the world except the Indian government took any notice of the report. Indian government was the only one to have taken notice and acted on the unclear report," Singh told BBC Hindi in an interview.

"Now the question is why the Indian government decided to act on a report, which was completely trashed in other parts of the world. This I would reveal in my new book, which I am going to write soon," he said.

"Paul Volcker himself said he made changes in the report to save United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan from embarrassment. Therefore, it is clear that the report was doctored," he added.

"My name or that of my party did not figure in the first four reports of Volcker. My name was added as late as February 2005 in the fifth report, that too as a mis-spelt name -- Natora Singh," the Former external affairs minister said.

He said: "Our missions in the United States did not bother to find out about the report and the names neither was I informed about this when I visited that country in April, 2005, nor in July same year when I was there with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."

"Had we been informed, we would have there and then got this anomaly removed," Natwar said.

Asked what his future political plans are, the former minister said: "First of all, I am going to reply to the show cause notice given to me by my party. I am not going to blame anyone but would also not be afraid to put the facts as they were."

"The committee, which has served me the notice, has two such members who had left the Congress to form their own parties in the past," he added.

"I have never formed my own party. They have suspended me but I still continue to be a Congressman, which I have been since the days of Pandit Nehru whose understanding of foreign policy is rooted in my blood," Natwar said.

Continuing his attack on Prime Minister Manmohan singh, he said: "Recently, a Congress leader remarked that I should now retire from politics heeding my own advice as I had said in the past that those above seventy years of age should not be in politics. My answer is that I am almost retired but if that criterion is to be applied first of all Manmohan Singh, who is 74 now, should be asked to retire."

Natwar said the prime minister, in whose cabinet he was the Foreign Minister, did not do or say anything to defend his colleague. "The only thing that I heard from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in last nine months since the Volcker issue was raked up was that facts have not been verified. Now, the Pathak committee says that neither me nor my son took any financial benefits, then why did Manmohan Singh not say anything on the issue then or now? He did not stand up for a colleague as a team leader should have done."

He, however, refused to say anything against Congress president Sonia Gandhi. "I owe a lot to this family. There is no doubt that I was made the foreign minister of this country by Sonia Gandhi. Attempts are being made to make me speak against her but I am not so brittle to do so," he said.

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