|Congress suspends Natwar
New Delhi, August 8
The party also served a showcause notice to Mr Natwar Singh, asking him to explain the notice for privilege motion given by him in the Rajya Sabha against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the ‘leak’ of Pathak Authority’s report.
The decision was taken at a late- night meeting of the party’s disciplinary action committee (DAC), headed by Mr A.K.Antony, former Kerala chief minister, and attended by senior leaders — Pranab Mukherjee, Motilal Vora and Sushil Kumar Shinde.
Talking to newsmen, Mr Pranab Mukherjee said Mr Natwar Singh had been suspended from the party as he had misused his position as the leader of the Congress delegation to Iraq in 2001 and for furthering commercial interests of his son’s cousin, Andaleeb Sehgal, for his company Hamdan Exports.
He further said Mr Natwar Singh had expanded the Congress delegation to include his son and his cousin without any authority from the Congress president and without her knowledge. He had also been charged with carrying on propaganda against the party and bringing disrepute to it.
The DAC’s decision was only a formality as the party leadership had principally decided to proceed against Mr Natwar Singh on Monday only.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had conferred with senior Cabinet ministers last night where the party’s top brass felt that the Pathak Authority’s report and Mr Natwar Singh’s subsequent conduct warranted action.
His fate was sealed after the Pathak Authority on the Volcker allegations held him guilty of facilitating oil contracts from Iraq for persons close to him.
The party took strong exception to the three letters he wrote on the AICC letterhead in his capacity of chairman of the party’s Foreign Affairs Cell, to the Iraqi oil minister, introducing his son and nephew to him.
He also incurred the party’s wrath for his intemperate public utterances and consorting with non-Congress parties like the Samajwadi Party, the BJP, the Janata Dal (U), the TDP and the AIADMK.
Mr Natwar Singh was also in the dock for the letter he wrote to the Rajya Sabha Chairman, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekawat, asking him not to alow the Prime Minister to speak in the House as Congress members had prevented him from giving his side of the story.
His absence during the vote
on the Office of Profit Bill did not go unnoticed by the party either.
Natwar Gets Opposition support
New Delhi, August 6
Apparently feeling let down by his party for not defending him and having already said he had many secrets to disclose, Mr Natwar Singh, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha, sent a notice of breach of privilege to the House Secretariat against the Prime Minister. The notice comes a day ahead of the expected tabling of the Justice Pathak panel report and of the action taken report (ATR) in Parliament.
Although the Congress did not react officially, stating the issue of notice as one in the domain of the government and that of Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, the minister himself reacted by saying that it was an “absolute act of indiscipline”. He also said he was trying to ascertain facts as he had officially not been informed about the notice.
The 75-year-old former minister sent the privilege notice, accusing the government of leaking the report on Thursday when it was presented to the Prime Minister.
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, will now have to decide whether to admit the motion. Some of the Opposition parties are also expected to move a privilege motion against the Prime Minister on the issue.
In an evening filled with action and excitement, the former External Affairs Minister got support from all Opposition quarters and also from the UPA ally CPI. There was flurry of activity throughout the evening as a large number of leaders, including Mr George Fernandes, met the Congress leader from Rajasthan.
However, this latest round of attack from Mr Natwar Singh is also being seen as an act not only against the Prime Minister but also against 10 Janpath.
If the privilege motion is admitted in the Rajya Sabha, it is bound to get the support of the Samajwadi Party, TDP, JD (U) and AIADMK with whom an upset Natwar Singh has been hobnobbing recently. Most importantly, the CPI justified the move made by Mr Natwar Singh.
The SP, TDP and AIADMK together have a total of strength of 33 members in the 245-member Rajya Sabha. The support of a minimum of 25 members is necessary for an admission of a privilege motion.
In his reaction over the move, Mr Dasmunsi said Mr Natwar Singh was mature enough to respond to what should be done at what stage. “I have every faith that each one us in public life in the country should value the report on its merit and not on subjective consideration,” he said.
The government has already ordered a probe into the leak and announced that the report will be tabled in Parliament along with the ATR.
In the notice, Mr Natwar Singh has raised strong objections as to how the Pathak Committee report, submitted to the Prime Minister, was leaked to the media. He has accused the government of violating parliamentary norms by revealing contents of the report to the media while the monsoon session of Parliament was underway, reports said.
Meanwhile, Mr Amar Singh had a meeting with Mr Natwar Singh during the day and later told reporters that AIADMK, TDP and Samajwadi Party were likely to bring a breach of privilege notice against the Prime Minister in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow over the leak.
The SP leader said he had come to meet Mr Natwar Singh with messages from AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa and TDP chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, which he declined to divulge.
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