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Updated: March 16, 2011 02:13 IST

WikiLeaks disclosures don't prove policies were influenced: Congress

Special Correspondent
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Mani Shankar Aiyar. Photo: Kamal Narang
The Hindu Mani Shankar Aiyar. Photo: Kamal Narang

The Congress on Tuesday said the WikiLeaks revelations on India's foreign and domestic policies were not worthy of comment as they were merely the subjective interpretation of conversations between individuals. The party's line was that unless it could be substantiated that such conversations had led to a change of policy, there was “no question of accepting their veracity” as they were just “unauthenticated details.”

Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told journalists “democracy would not be diminished” through the release of “sensational tidbits.” “Our decisions and policies are not going to be subject to periodic leaks from WikiLeaks.”

A Congress functionary later said the “Indian democracy was so disparate and diverse” that it ensured “multiple levels of decision-making.” “There is no question of any one country unduly influencing policies in this country.”

Not surprised: Aiyar

Meanwhile, the former Union Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, an Iran gas pipeline advocate, whose removal as Petroleum Minister in 2006 was linked to alleged U.S. pressure, told a TV channel that he was “not surprised by [the then U.S. Ambassador to India David C.] Mulford's comments as he had publicly criticised me in Washington after I gave up my petroleum portfolio. I was still a serving Cabinet Minister; I had taken up the matter with the then Foreign Secretary who just decided to have a word with him. Mulford has the right to send what he wants to his State Department …”

Mr. Aiyar indicated that Mr. Mulford's public criticism should have been dealt with more sharply, as he remained a Cabinet Minister even after the petroleum portfolio was taken away from him.

WikiLeaks quotes Mr. Mulford describing the change in the petroleum portfolio as a “determination to ensure that U.S.-India relations continue to move ahead rapidly” — Mr. Aiyar was succeeded by Murli Deora.

“I was told explicitly it was a temporary charge. I thought I will be there [Petroleum Ministry] for a week or two. It turned out to be 20 months,” Mr Aiyar said, adding, “So it is not surprising that at the first opportunity when the reshuffle took place I was relieved of my temporary charge.”

Asked whether there was any U.S. influence on the Cabinet reshuffle, he said, “How would I know? I was given temporary charge of the oil Ministry.”

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