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The Rediff Special/Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
'I have never spoken against Sonia Gandhi'
November 08, 2005
Professor Haridarshan Singh Mejie (75), chairman of PCP group of companies with business interests in Iraq, has been in the news recently because of his outspoken remarks indirectly indicting former external affairs minister Natwar Singh in the Iraqi Oil-for-Food scam.
His assertion --first to rediff.com and then to several television channels -- that Natwar and his son Jagat had visited Baghdad looking for business and that Iraqi Oil Minister Aamer Rashid had told him how Natwar was favoured by the Saddam government, caused immense embarrassment for the Congress party.
Mejie also claims that Natwar Singh -- who has denied knowing him -- had dinner at his house in Baghdad along with former Maharashtra chief minister A R Antulay.
The Congress dismissed his claims as "baseless charges of a person without any locus standi in the matter" while Natwar's lobby, on the back-foot because of Mejie's remarks, dismissed him as 'loud mouth.'
Mejie, known to be a maverick, has a M.Tech from IIT, a Masters of Mechanical Engineering from University of Illinois and a Post Graduate Diploma from Roorkee University.
An engineer with more than 50 years experience in diverse fields, he started as a Lecturer in Production Engineering at Roorkee University in 1954. In 1969, he was invited by the Punjab government to head the first joint sector company, Punjab Chemi Plants Limited (PCP), as a private partner and managing director. Over the years, PCP acquired international standing and diversified into various disciplines and built a number of associate companies.
Mejie first took PCP overseas in 1976 to Kuwait, and soon moved on to Qatar, Iraq, UK and the US. He has been in Iraq since 1978 and did not pull out even when the Gulf war started. He is into marketing with various UN organizations, including the oil-for-food programme of Iraq, and became India's largest player in Baghdad.
In 1996, he began working with the UN Peacekeeping Operations.
After the telecast of his views on the Volcker report, Mejie is upset that a television channel twisted his quotes and sensationalized it by implying that Congress President Sonia Gandhi could be involved in the oil scam.
"I have never spoken against Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Not that I am afraid to speak out but I do not have any proof to involve her or the Congress party. I know what was happening in Baghdad and it is not fair to drag her in the issue without any evidence," he told rediff.com.
Although under tremendous pressure, Mejie is unwilling to retract his statements against Natwar and his visit to Baghdad with his son. Natwar was in Iraq to seek oil business and "surely, there are some evidences involving his son Jagat and his relative-friend," he said.
A strong supporter of Saddam Hussein, Mejie believes the deposed Iraqi President did not do anything wrong by selling oil to his favourites because Iraq was a sovereign nation and Hussein had the right to sell oil to the supporters of Iraq.
In an exclusive conversation with Managing Editor Sheela Bhatt, Mejie shared his deep insight into the UN Oil-for-Food programme, because of which Natwar Singh lost his portfolio on Monday.
The United Nations Security Council had in July 1996 (Under Resolution No 986) allowed Iraq to sell oil under strict "contractual conditions", for the purpose of obtaining "funds for purchase of humanitarian goods". These contractual conditions broadly were:
What do you think about those Natwar Singh and the Congress party who have been named in report?
What do you think about allegations against so many Indian companies?
The transport costs and after sales service margins were all the time approved by a UN committee, which includes nominees from the United States and the United Kingdom. Many times our bid was much less than the market price.
Complete Coverage: The Volcker Report
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