M A I N   N E W S

Cong to act on Natwar after report is tabled
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 4
The Congress leadership will decide on former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh’s fate only after the Pathak authority report is tabled in Parliament along with the Centre’s action taken report (ATR).

The party’s final decision will also depend on the findings of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) which is probing Mr Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh’s involvement in the money dealings connected with the Volcker report’s disclosures regarding Iraq’s oil-for-food programme.

While a decision on tabling of the report is yet to be taken, the government’s immediate priority is to investigate how the Pathak authority’s findings were leaked to the media even before they were submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranajan Dasmunshi told presspersons that the government would deal “very firmly” with this issue and that the probe would be entrusted to an agency, which is yet to be named.

The report has since been forwarded to the Finance Ministry, the nodal ministry dealing with the Volcker allegations, which will now examine the findings and prepare an ATR. Mr Dasmunshi maintained that Finance Minister P.Chidambaram had told him that he was yet to go through the report, as he had been busy in Parliament the whole day.

Although technically, the Centre has six months to bring the reports to Parliament, there is a view in the government that these be tabled in the ongoing session itself since Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee has also expressed his displeasure over the report’s leakage. Besides, the government would also like to avoid unnecessary speculation about its contents.

Meanwhile, the Congress leadership has decided not to act against Mr Natwar Singh till the contents of the Pathak report are tabled in Parliament and on completion of the ED probe. “We will take note of the report only after it comes into the public domain,” Mr Janardan Dwivedi, AICC media chairperson, said here today.

UPA sources said that, as of now, Mr Natwar Singh appears to be safe as the Pathak report has not found any money trail leading to the former minister and his son.

Since he does not hold any position in the government or the party, the only step that the Congress can take is to expel him. However, there is no compelling reason to resort to such an extreme measure. The party is also encouraged by Natwar’s statement today describing himself as a “sepoy of the Congress party.” However, all this could change if Mr Natwar Singh starts singing another tune and continues to hobnob with the BJP and the Samajwadi Party in the coming days.





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