Senior Congress leader and former union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Monday said the Wikileaks expose about his removal from the post of union minister for petroleum under US pressure was absolutely rubbish.
"This is absolutely rubbish," said Aiyar while speaking to media persons at Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) headquarters in Lucknow. Aiyar said the Americans were happy when he was removed. Americans thought he was anti-American, said Aiyar. "But I am pro-India," said Aiyar.
Aiyar said his main portfolio was panchayati raj and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had given him additional charge of union petroleum ministry. Aiyar said he had indicated that petroleum ministry was his temporary charge at his first press conference. At this the cabinet secretariat had pointed out that there was nothing like a temporary job, said Aiyar. "It was my luck that the temporary charge lasted 20 months. I did an outstanding job in the ministry," he said. It was not that the PM went to US diplomat to ask whether he or Deora be made petroleum minister, he said.
Aiyar said it was during his tenure that the project to lay the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline was formulated in the interest of the country. Aiyar said he wanted to extend the pipeline to China as well to keep a check on Pakistan and it required cooperation from Iran.
Aiyar said the Wikileaks expose had incorrect facts about the number of MP in the Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal or Nachiketa Kapoor etc.. "If Wikileaks can lie about the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Jaitley it can also lie about Nachiketa Kapoor," said Aiyar.
Aiyar, who was here to preside over a meeting of his party's Rajiv Gandhi Pancvhayati Raj Sangthan (UP) said the state government's move to hold indirect elections for the post of mayors and the nagar panchayat chiefs was not justified. "We do not understand why this is being done. This may not be in the interest of the Bahujan Samaj Party," he said.
Aiyar said there was a need to bring about reforms in the panchayat raj system in the state. He said many other states had carried out effective reforms and 40 % of budgeted funds were being given directly to the panchayat raj institutions in Kerala. His endeavour would be to get the state party's panchayat raj organisation activated in the state, said Aiyar. The state unit had proposed to enroll about 5 lakh members, said Aiyar. But this target had not been achieved, he said, adding, this needed intervention on the part of central unit. "I will back after some time and review the performance again," he said.