M A I N   N E W S

Pathak report leak rocks Parliament
Speaker, Advani seek explanation; govt denies leak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The leakage of the report of the Justice R S Pathak Inquiry Authority into the oil-for-food scam submitted to the Prime Minister last evening pulverised the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha today with the Opposition accusing the Congress-led UPA government of committing contempt of Parliament.

Even as the Leader of the Opposition L K Advani remained firm that the UPA government had deliberately leaked the report and sought an explanation, Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister denied the charged observing that motives were being imputed.

Mr Dasmunshi was categorical that that neither the government nor the Prime Minister’s office had leaked the report and assured that the matter would be looked into.

Mr Dasmunshi drew pointed attention to the erstwhile BJP-led UPA government leaking the report on the probe into the 1999 intrusion of Pakistani forces in Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir.

Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was also unsparing expressing resentment over the leakage of the Pathak Inquiry Authority report especially with Parliament in session.

Mr Chatterjee said it should not have been available to the media and felt the “government must explain but I am not expecting an immediate response.”

At the same time the Speaker was quick in telling the Opposition that they also could not discuss the issue only on the basis of media reports but this virtually fell on deaf ears.

Backed by certain UPA allies, including the Left, RJD and the SP, the Opposition continued to disrupt the proceedings leading to the Lok Sabha being adjourned till 3 pm. On reassembling in the afternoon to take up private members business the volley of protests culminated in the adjournment of the House.

The Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice no sooner the House had assembled. Initially Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat adjourned the House till noon and when it assembled for the second time with no let up in the slogan shouting Deputy Chairman K Rahman adjourned the Rajya Sabha to reassemble on Monday.

The Paul Volcker report had rocked Parliament last year forcing K Natwar Singh to resign as the External Affairs minister.

BJP Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Vijay Kumar Malhotra said outside Parliament “There is a clear breach of privilege of the House.

When Parliament is in session why did they leak the report,” he asked.

Former External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha insisted that Mr Natwar Singh was being made a scapegoat. “Why has the Congress been let off the hook,” Mr Sinha asked and demanded the Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority report be tabled in Parliament.

SP’s Amar Singh said that Mr Natwar Singh had functioned as Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s emissary in Iraq as he had no other official authority at the time.

On his part Mr Natwar Singh reacted sharply saying “I was not in power at the time.

Where is the question of me misusing my authority,” he wondered aloud to mediapersons outside Parliament.

He said if the Congress party issued him a show-cause notice he would respond to it. “I will say I or my son had no position to misuse.”

Mr Natwar Singh maintained that he and the Congress could not be divorced. Sidestepping the question if there was a possibility of his joining the Samajwadi party, he said the only strength he had was the Congress party.

Meanwhile, the BJP and the Samajwadi party targeted the Congress president on the ground that the Justice Pathak Inquiry Authority report was believed to have exonerated the Congress party in Iraq’s oil-for-food scam.





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