Volcker Report and the aftermath
by K.N. Pandita
UN enquiry into the Oil for Food Programme scam has caued deeperripples in the Indian politics. The name of Natwar Singh, a Congressactivisit inj 2001 when the scam was undertaken has been mentionedinVolcker’s report. Indian opposition party in the parliament made itan issue, stalled the business of the house for four full days andsucceeded in showing the door to Natwar Singh as External AffairsMinsiter.
People wondered when Natwar Singh was made EA Minister when UPA tookover. There wer younger people in the line with no less experience offoreign affairs. That he was a career diplomat and a foreign ministerwill not be denied. But the prestigious post went to him by way ofacknowledgement of his contribution.
Nobody knows where the enormous oil money went; into which banks andin whose name and where? Some say it went to Jordanian banks other sayto Geneva banks.The truth maynever be known.
The point is that Natwar Singh is reported to have carried a letterfrom Sonia Gandhi to the President of Iraq, Saddam Hussain. Congresspartyhas an image with the leadership in world countries that havetried to stand up to the bullying Americans. Congress’ role is wellknown to such countries including Iraq of Saddam Hussain. Obviously,the letter from the Congress president must have been either obtainedor voluntarily written or both in order to make a benefit out of it.
It remains a secret how much of money went to the Congress via SoniaGandhi and how much went to the share of Natwar and et al? NatwarSingh’s parting remarks that he would not want the parliament tobeparalysed owing to his affair is not going to cut ice with keen andimpartial observers. He has been shunted out because the Congresspresident did not want him to be there. Thus Kapil Sibal anotherdynastaic loyalist was asked to convey the message. He volunteeredobviously in the hope of stepping into the shoes of Natwar Singh. Ofcourse he is lobbying very hard for that.
Earlier the Mitrokhen cas had also rocked the parliament. Butl’affair Natwar being more attainable a gain, Mitrokhen episode gotrelegated to the back burner. The fundamental question is of Congressas a historical and popular political parity of India selling itself inforeign markets. Naturally no benefactor would give lavish doles unlessstrings are tied to them. What are the strings can be understood fromthe policy the party is pursuing when catapulted into power.
Natwar affair is not going to die down with the exit of the man. TheBJP would not let it died down because having made a dent in theprojected profile of the Congress, it would strike when the iron ishot. As an opposition it has the right to demand the resignation ofperson or persons it thinks are involved. The Pathak Inauiry has nowbecome redundant. Evenif it absolves Natwar, he is not going to stage acome back because there are other forces and before that happens, a newEA Ministger will have already occupied the chair.
The UPA chairm person has to accept her responsibility. She may havesucceeded in cutting the branch but the tree is rotten. Internaldissensions and unbounded aspirations particularly among the youngergeneration in her party is bound to surge with a bounce. Dual powercentre arrangement has made a complete mess of the PMO, reducing the PMto a mere pawn on the chessboard.