M A I N   N E W S

Natwar gives privilege notice against PM
Gets Opposition support
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6
Former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh, indicted by Justice R.S. Pathak for misusing his position, today virtually charted a route of confrontation with the Congress leadership by giving a notice of privilege motion against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and meeting various Opposition leaders, including Samajwadi Party’s Amar Singh and CPI’s A.B. Bardhan.

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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