M A I N   N E W S

Govt ready to expose Natwar
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 9
The gloves are clearly off. With suspended Congress leader K. Natwar Singh launching a personal attack against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, a combative government is preparing to take him on, word for word.

Unfazed by the former minister’s threats to spill the beans on the Congress and drag the Prime Minister to court, the party’s top brass in the government is busy “digging up all the dirt” on Mr Natwar Singh and will not hesitate to go public with these revelations in case the suspended leader crosses the “Lakshman rekha”.

UPA sources disclosed that the Pathak report, which indicted Mr Natwar Singh for misusing his position and facilitating oil contracts for persons close to him from the Iraqi authorities, was only the tip of the iceberg. It was stated that inquiries have revealed how the suspended leader’s son, Jagat Singh, took an unusual interest in the award of contracts for supply of medicines and other materials to African countries when Mr Natwar Singh was the External Affairs Minister.

“We have sufficient material to expose Mr Natwar Singh and his son Jagat Singh. We will give a befitting reply to him,” said a senior UPA minister.

After moving a privilege motion against the Prime Minister over the leakage of the Pathak report, Mr Natwar Singh has been wanting to make a personal statement in the Rajya Sabha to give his side of the story. The government has decided not to pull its punches in case he is permitted to make such a statement.

It will be the government’s endeavour to keep Prime Minister Manmohan Singh out of the firing line. In case the situation warrants it, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee may be fielded to respond to his former colleague’s statement. Alternatively, Ministers of State for External Affairs and Parliamentary Affairs Anand Sharma and Suresh Pachouri, respectively, could be asked to take on Mr Natwar Singh.

UPA managers and senior Congress leaders believe that despite all his threats, Mr Natwar Singh will not be able to damage the party or the government as his credibility has touched an all-time low. The contradictory statements he has made on the letters he wrote to the Iraqi authorities is sufficient to expose him, senior Congress leaders maintain.

The Congress’ confidence can also be attributed to the fact that Left parties have now distanced themselves from Mr Natwar Singh. Left leaders had been seen in the former minister’s company along with the Samajwadi Party and the BJP when they got together to press for a parliamentary resolution on the Indo-US nuclear deal. 




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