THOUGH BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha hosted a lunch for Natwar Singh on Wednesday, the party believes it's time for it to get back to targeting the Congress and Sonia Gandhi over the oil-for-food scam.
Party leaders say the BJP will have to go beyond the "Natwar-Sonia clash" to get an upper hand on the issue. They want the party to go to the people on the government "trying" to give a clean chit to the Congress while "fixing" Natwar and his son Jagat.
They dismiss the presence of Yashwant Sinha and JD(U)'s Digvijay Singh at the lunch hosted by Shatrughan Sinha as insignificant for the party's interest, which they believe is not served by backing Natwar against the Congress.
BJP leaders like Arun Jaitely want to focus on the task of mobilising opinion against the Congress. Even L.K. Advani, who described Natwar as having being made a "scapegoat" to save Sonia, is said to feel so. After all, it was the BJP which forced Natwar's resignation by persistently demanding it from the time the Volcker report was released, naming him and the Congress among the "non-contractual beneficiaries".
The BJP has already rejected the Pathak report as baseless, wanting to know why it was silent about a letter of introduction from the Congress chief, which was said to have been carried by Natwar to the Iraqi authorities in 2001.
Jaitley has said the BJP wants the registration of a criminal case against all those named in the Volcker report as illegal beneficiaries from India of Iraq's oil-for-food programme. And that would include Natwar, who, it seems, has overstayed his visit here.
Meanwhile, the CPM has dubbed the Natwar Singh controversy as an internal affair of the Congress. Natwar Singh was a member of the Congress when the oil-for-food scam unfolded, Sitaram Yechury said. “We don’t interfere in the affairs of the other parties,’’ Yechury said. Earlier in the day, CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta said there was little chance of forging any “broader understanding’’ with Natwar Singh.