Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022

'The PM Is Weak ... Pathak Used To Hang Around Me'

'The PM 'knew nothing of foreign affairs... and I helped him ... ' Pathak report is '...by a gentleman who was hanging around me to get into the world court.'

Sleeping over the issue after his outburst in an impromptu press-conference has also apparently not calmed him down, for Natwar Singh, when confronted by Karan Thapar in an interview for CNN-IBN went on to say, "It gives me no pleasure to say that he (Manmohan Singh) is a weak PM, unable to stand by his colleagues. He has no backbone. ... I have worked with him for 40 years... he is indecisive ... he knew nothing of foreign affairs... and I helped him ... and now when I am in difficulty he does not have the courage or camaraderie to say something in my favour." 

He prefaced the above by saying: "I have served the Congress for 22 years, before that 31 years (I was) in the foreign service. I have been let down. I am deeply disappointed. I am bitter, I'm hurt that the party has decided to do this to me." 

He also alleged that two ministers in the UPA Government had hatched a conspiracy against him. When asked whether he was hinting at Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, he said, "It is for you to draw your own conclusion."

He went on to charge these two unnamed ministers for having selected lawyers who had prejudice against him to assist the Pathak Inquiry Authority. 

That was not all, he even did not spare Justice Pathak who, he said, used to "hang around" him to get an entry into the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The Pathak report is "...by a gentleman who was hanging around me to get into the world court."

Perhaps Natwar Singh does not recognise that this would actually strengthen the charge that the report is a cover-up and  is soft on him and gives him a certificate of not being a financial beneficiary. It could well be argued that the report was designed to offer him an honourable exit which he has misread as persecution.

It has been widely reported that the Enforcement Directorate is baffled by the Pathak Authority not taking note of the documents of Serious Fraud Office (SFO) London which gave detail of the money trail.  Sources in the agency claim Pathak Authority was handed over voluminous documents procured  from the United Kingom's SFO giving details about the flow of money and its trail.

However, there was no mention about the SFO documents in the 110-page Pathak authority report and it remained silent over the investigations carried out by the ED. The SFO documents are understood to have given details about the money flow from the company floated by Sehgal and London-based NRI Khanna to other people in India. The sources say the Pathak Authority was also silent on the statement given by Sehgal before the Enforcement Directorate alleging that he did the entire lifting of oil at the behest of "somebody".

Meanwhile, in the Karan Thapar interview, Natwar reiterated that while signatures on the three controversial letters: 

About the letter given to Andaleeb Sehgal: "The signatures are mine but the content is not mine. I have no idea who wrote the letter ... the language is not mine the letters are a cut and paste job." But he refused to speculate on who had "concocted" the letter, and said: "No originals were shown to me (by the Pathak Authority)."

As for the letters given to Jagat Singh, Natwar Singh said: "I may have written those letters." But insisted that there there was a "deliberate attempt" by the Pathak Authority not to include affidavits filed by him, his son Jagat and Andaleeb Sehgal: "Andaleeb's affidavit is not mentioned, my affidavit is not mentioned, my son's affidavit is not mentioned (in the Pathak report)," he said.

Later, his son Jagat Singh read out a statement by Natwar Singh to the assembled journalists at his residence:

"I would like to point out that the Justice Pathak inquiry committee [Authority] has in its own convoluted way totally discredited the basis of Paul Volcker's allegations. 

"I place before the people of India what the Permanent Mission of India (PMI) in the UN reported in the final report in the oil-for-food programme investigation on the authenticity and veracity of the Volcker report to the Manmohan Singh Government," he said.

The statement went on to quote from the report by the Minister in PMI, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, which said "The IICs were headed by Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, whose inclination was to discredit the opponents of US policy ... No evidence has been cited and no documentation given on most of the allegations made .... due process was not observed because none of the non-commercial entities were asked through PMI to respond to the allegations..

"It may be noted that the communication is of October 30, 2005 and therefore a vital input which was available to the Manmohan Singh Government and to Justice R S Pathak, which they seem to have deliberately ignored ....

"The malicious campaign launched in the last few months against me has questioned my honour, integrity and political and diplomatic credentials acquired over a lifetime. I wonder why this vital document has been deliberately ignored.