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Natwar refutes charges

Special Correspondent

"Allegations in Volcker Committee report are baseless"

JAIPUR: Back on his home turf, Bharatpur in Rajasthan, for the first time after the controversy over the Volcker report broke out, External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh on Saturday refuted the charges of being a "non-contractual" beneficiary of Iraq's Oil-for-Food programme. "The allegations in the Volcker report are baseless," he said.

Mr. Singh's one-day visit to the Mewat region (Alwar and Bharatpur) was not a programme to reach out to the public. In fact, the State Pradesh Congress Committee leadership, which planned the programme sometime back as a part of the `Jan Jagran Abiyan' (public awareness campaign), was rather unsure of his participation till two days back.

PCC president B.D. Kalla, the former Chief Minister, Jagannath Pahadia, and the former PCC president, Narain Singh, were among the speakers.

"In my 21 years of political life, I have not done anything which I, myself, my son and my grandson should feel ashamed of," Mr. Natwar Singh, accompanied by his son, Jagat Singh, MLA, told a meeting at Kaman town in Bharatpur district on Saturday. "It is not only me; the inferences of the involvement of the Congress party or any other Congress leader are totally wrong," he said.

Mr. Natwar Singh challenged the Bharatiya Janata Party's demand for his resignation. "The BJP leaders like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, who at present raise an accusing finger at me, themselves are tainted," he said.

Mr. Natwar Singh, who participated in three functions earlier in the day at Laxmangarh, his son's Assembly constituency in Alwar district, did not speak at those programmes.

In his address at Batodi, Mr. Narain Singh touched upon the issue to defend Mr. Natwar Singh while Mr. Kalla refrained from referring it.

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