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Natwar Congress' scapegoat: Advani
December 05, 2005 20:28 IST
Maintaining that Natwar Singh was being made a scapegoat by the Congress to "save its skin" in the Iraqi oil deals, Leader of Opposition L K Advani on Monday demanded that the ruling party apply the same yardstick and remove Sonia Gandhi as Chairperson of National Advisory Council.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party president also rubbished the suggestion that the Opposition was raising its pitch on the Volcker report to divert attention from the Uma Bharti issue saying while one dealt with party's internal affairs, the other related to "purity in politics".
Advani, drawing parallels between the present situation and the run-up to the emergency, said, "In Mumbaiya Hindi, one could say Congress Ka Lafda Hai, Natwar To Bakra Hai (The Congress is the culprit and Natwar Singh is being made a scapegoat. It is important for the country that the Congress role in the whole episode becomes clear.
"The Leader of Opposition (in Rajya Sabha) was not allowed to speak. A blanket is put around the Indian Ambassador to Croatia and he is whisked away on returning to the country reminding one of the midnight knocks during emergency. The prime minister says he will consider if Natwar Singh offers to resign.
"All these statements show the ruling party in bad light. The Minister and his family are repeatedly saying, 'Don't make us a scapegoat'. "It seems obvious that the present mood in the ruling establishment is that if blame is put on one person, the party may perhaps be able to get out of it", he said.
"It was bad enough for an individual to be named in the Volcker Report but that the Congress has been named is more serious. You cannot have double standards. Natwar Singh has been stripped of his portfolio. The same approach should be adopted in the case of the Congress president also. Until investigations are complete, the NAC Chairman should quit office," Advani said.
The Leader of Opposition, however, alleged, "Other considerations were weighing with the party, not accountability". Terming the Winter Session of Parliament as a "single scam session" and "Iraqi oil scam session," he said, "The oil scam is getting murkier and murkier with every passing day. Correspondingly for the government, the situation is becoming more and more slippery. There is a sinking feeling."
"That the United Nations report should name a senior Minister of UPA and its principal party is bad in itself. The manner in which it is being handled is even worse", he said. While the principal defence of the ruling coalition was the names were unverified, the Aneil Matherani episode has given a "new turn to the story. It is verification by an insider that there is substance to the allegations," he said.
Mathrani, Advani said, was not an ordinary person but one of the four persons sent by the party to Iraq as also then Secretary of its Foreign Affairs cell. He said while the Congress' displeasure' with him was understandable, the manner in which he was treated when he returned showed how the coalition was "messing up the whole thing".
Advani said whether it was the Mitrokhin Archives or the Volcker Report, the BJP was concerned and wanted to draw the country's attention "…to the serious fact that some Indian politicians have no qualms or hesitation in using foreign money for running domestic politics." Asserting that both the issues were identical, he said the Parliament must be given an opportunity to discuss the issue.
Maintaining that Mathrani's statements were "valuable evidence" before the Justice R S Pathak Committee probing the oil deals, he sought to know whether the Enforcement Directorate sought its confidence before interrogating the Indian envoy to Croatia.
Asked whether the party was raising its pitch in the matter to divert attention from the Uma Bharti episode, he said, "Bharti affair is an internal matter of the party and has nothing to do with national politics. It is related to internal discipline and we are dealing with it."
Advani also suggested that a meeting of Parliamentary leaders of all parties be convened once the Prime Minister returns but said BJP would participate in tomorrow's all party meeting to discuss the stalemate in Parliament. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh alleged that the UN handed over relevant documents to the ED and not to Virender Dayal who was appointed to obtain the same.
He also took strong exception to the Prime Minister criticising the BJP for the second time during his foreign visit. Singh said he does not remember any occasion when a Foreign Minister of any country was divested of his portfolio. He regretted that he was not allowed to speak by Congressmen in the presence of the Prime Minister.