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Natwar spews venom on PM

"It gives me no pleasure to say that he is a weak PM, unable to stand by his colleagues," Natwar tells a TV channel.

india Updated: Aug 09, 2006 17:58 IST

Stepping up his offensive against Manmohan Singh, former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh on Wednesday said he was a "weak" Prime Minister who was unable to stand by his colleagues in difficulty.

"It gives me no pleasure to say that he is a weak PM, unable to stand by his colleagues," he told Karan Thapar in an interview for CNN-IBN, a day after his suspension from the Congress for misusing his position to get Iraqi oil contracts for persons close to him.

"I have worked with him (Manmohan Singh) for 40 years ... He knew nothing of foreign affairs ... When I am in difficulty he does not have the courage or camaraderie to say something in my favour," he said.

Without naming anyone, Natwar Singh, alleged that two ministers in the present government had hatched a conspiracy against him.

Asked whether he was pointing an accusing finger at Union Ministers P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, he said, "It is for you to draw your own conclusion."

Natwar Singh also alleged that the two minsters had selected lawyers having prejudice against him to assist the Pathak Inquiry Authority, which probed the Iraqi oil scam and indicted him and his son Jagat for misusing their positions to get oil contracts for persons close to them.

Natwar Singh maintained that signatures on the three letters purported to have been written by him to Iraqi oil minister about his son Jagat and Delhi-based businessman Andaleeb Sehgal, were his but claimed the language was not his.

"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," the former Minister said when asked about the introductory letter given by him to Andaleeb Sehgal.

Natwar Singh said he had no idea who had "concocted" the letters. Expressing his apprehension over the authenticity of the letters, he said "no originals were shown to me (by the Pathak authority)."

On the letters given to Jagat Singh, Natwar Singh said "I may have written those letters."

The former minister alleged 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.

However, Natwar Singh refused to make any comment on Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

"Due to my reverence to Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, I will not say a single word against Sonia Gandhi," he said.

First Published: Aug 09, 2006 09:20 IST