Never Influenced Choice of BJP Speaker: N K Singh

New Delhi
Never Influenced Choice of BJP Speaker: N K Singh
Janata Dal(U) MP and former bureaucrat N K Singh today said he never tried to influence the choice of BJP speakers in Parliament on the 2009 Budget and his conversation with Nira Radia was a "social chat".

Former Telecom Minister and Arun Shourie had alleged in a TV interview that he was replaced by his party colleague M Venkiah Naidu as a lead speaker for the Opposition BJP in the Rajya Sabha on the 2009 Budget.

This was allegedly to take an accommodative position on a tax proposal which could have helped Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries.

"On the substance of the concession, as Revenue Secretary when my views would have mattered, I rejected the proposed tax breaks being extended to Gas", Singh said in a statement.

"Regarding the selection of who should open the debate, this is not a matter which could be decided by me.

It was for the BJP leadership to take the decision in accordance with the conventions of the Party", Singh said.

"At no stage, and this can be ascertained from the BJP leadership, did I try to influence their (BJP's) choice of speakers, much less the contents of their speech", Singh said in a statement here.

As for the conversation with corporate lobbyist Radia, the JD (U) Rajya Sabha member said "any such conversation was more in the nature of a social chat".

On the proposal of tax breaks for the gas sector, Singh said he had rejected them as Revenue Secretary.

"This would be evident from the records of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance...".

He said as the Revenue Secretary, he had written to then Principal Secretary to Prime Minister and then Petroleum Secretary Vijay Kelkar giving his "rejection order".

"After leaving the government and when I was in no position to help, it was representated that the Petroleum Ministry had assured investors during their road shows that such tax incentives would be available and on the basis of which large investments in the gas sector were garnered.

"It was felt (by the Petroleum Ministry) that contractual obligations should be honoured and any retrospective withdrawal was contrary to sovereign commitments made", Singh said.
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