Pathak Report was based on "conjectures and surmises"
Reiterates that he, along with his son, stand vindicated by Pathak Authority's report Says he did not write to any Iraqi authority for awarding oil contract to Andaleep Sehgal Denies charge in Antony's letter that he enlarged size of Congress delegation to Iraq Refers to Volcker Committee's failure to seek clarifications from him, Congress
NEW DELHI: Denying that there had been any "misconduct" on his part as alleged in the show cause notice sent to him by a Congress disciplinary committee, former External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh has demanded that "my case should be referred to the Congress president."
Describing the term misconduct as "an atrocious assertion," he noted that the Pathak Authority had not used this word anywhere in its Report. Indeed, it stated that "this is not a trial of a person accused of an offence or misconduct." On the contrary, the Pathak Report noted on page 81 that neither his son nor he had derived any financial or personal benefits. "We stand vindicated," Mr. Singh asserted.
In his reply dated August 22 to the August 9 show cause letter sent by A.K. Antony, Mr. Singh, who has been suspended from party membership, asserted that "there is not a single document/letter/communication in which I have asked any Iraqi authority to give an oil contract, oil voucher or the like to Shri Andaleep Sehgal. Politicians give letters of recommendation all the time. Central Cabinet Ministers and party leaders have written to me several times asking me for various favours for their children and relatives ... [If] recommending someone or writing letters to someone is misconduct ... then you have to expel many top leaders of the party."
Mr. Singh denied the charge made in Mr. Antony's letter that he had enlarged the size of the Congress delegation to Iraq. He had in fact gone to Iraq as part of the delegation carrying a letter of introduction to Saddam Hussein from Sonia Gandhi.
Mr. Singh cited a page in the Pathak Authority Report where the problem of "authentication of documents" was mentioned and a lawyer assisting the Authority reported that he had been told at a meeting in the United Nations that "the documents ... had been provided under the seal of the U.N. and as such they were authentic." Mr. Singh then remarked: "If the said documentation provided under the seal of the U.N. was accepted on the face of it, then the Congress Party could not have been given a clean chit by the Pathak Authority."
He submitted that the Pathak Report was based on "conjectures and surmises." For instance, neither his detailed affidavit in reply nor the statement he recorded before the Authority was referred to in the report.
In the affidavit, he had questioned the fact that the role played by Kofi Annan and his son in the food-for-oil programme had been "purposefully omitted from the Volcker Report." He also referred to the failure of the Volcker Committee to seek any clarifications from him or the Congress Party "before listing us as the beneficiaries." His name, which did not figure in the four interim reports of the Committee, suddenly found its way in the fifth and final report. He characterised the Pathak Report as "a travesty and politically loaded" against him and his son.
Mr. Singh located his case in a larger context in which "the world over, leaders, media and diplomats see this entire series of episodes as a deep-rooted conspiracy by a superpower to undermine all voice of dissent raised against it."
"Not a private enterprise"
He reminded Mr. Antony that "we are talking about a United Nations Programme where every contract for oil was approved by a special committee of the United Nations ... [and] not a private enterprise."
In his reply sent on Tuesday evening to Mr. Antony, Mr. Singh had a final dig at the composition of the disciplinary committee:
"It is rather extraordinary that my case for suspension/expulsion has been initiated by and is being considered by a Committee comprising two members ... [who] had earlier been expelled from the Congress Party for six years for anti-Congress activities and had launched their own parties."