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PM meets senior leaders over Natwar issue
December 02, 2005 11:53 IST
Last Updated: December 03, 2005 00:01 IST
Top leaders of the government and ruling Congress held marathon parleys at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's residence in New Delhi Friday evening to devise strategy in the wake of fresh charges in Iraqi oil payoffs scam, but there was no indication whether beleaguered cabinet minister Natwar Singh would quit the Cabinet.
United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and senior ministers, including Pranab Mukherjee, Arjun Singh, Shivraj Patil and P Chidambaram as also Ahmed Patel, political secretary to the Congress president, had prolonged interaction with Dr Singh in the wake of the developments in Volcker findings.
With the opposition targeting Sonia, demanding her resignation as the National Advisory Council chairperson, the top leaders went into a huddle to devise ways and means to take the wind out of sails of Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.
The matter has become urgent in view of the prime minister's embarking on a three-day visit to Russia beginning Sunday and the opposition giving signals that it would not keep quiet in Parliament from next week.
The opposition has been insisting that mere making Natwar Singh a scapegoat would not suffice while the minister without portfolio, who has been in the eye of a storm since the scam broke out, has given no hint of resigning.
"I do not know," quipped Patel when asked whether Natwar Singh was quitting or not.
Highly placed sources said the prime minister was unlikely to ask Natwar Singh to quit, a senior minister indicated it was left to Natwar Singh whether to remain in the cabinet or not in view of the controversy.