Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Natwar (lal) Singh's exit from the Congress.....

Natwar Singh has dared the Congress supreme, Sonia Gandhi to throw him out of the party. He is not the first one to do this. Morarji Desai did this in 1969. But then, he was not alone then. He had such prominent leaders of the party as S.K.Patil, S.Nijalingappa, K.Kamaraj, Atulya Ghosh and N.Sanjiva Reddy with him at that time and they all went on to set up the Congress(O).

A few years later, Mohan Dharia, a senior minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet decided to take on Indira Gandhi and within months after his marginalization from the party, Chandrashekhar and Kishen Kant joined him. They all spent 19 months in jail (as MISA detenus) and played a key role in the formation of the Janata Party in 1977. Chandrashekhar became the president of the Janata party.

Jagjivan Ram and H.N.Bahuguna resented against the Congress high command, set up the Congress for Democracy and in alliance with the Janata Party defeated the Congress in the elections in March 1977. A decade after that, V.P.Singh spoke out against his party president, Rajiv Gandhi and when the party acted against him, he could take a substantial section of the party’s support base in Uttar Pradesh. Sharad Pawar, along with P.A.Sangma and Tariq Anwar raised their voice against Sonia Gandhi and the NCP did hurt the Congress in Maharashtra and Meghalaya.

Natwar Singh’s revolt, however, is unlikely to have the same impact. The reasons are: (1) Singh is not an organiser in any sense of the term and (2) There is hardly anyone else in the Congress party who would want to speak against Sonia Gandhi. In any case, even Natwar Singh would not have spoken against the party if Paul Volker had not revealed the deals that Natwar Singh was involved. In other words, Natwar Singh would have remained a 10 Janpath faithful if the Bush administration in the US had not decided to invade Iraq!

In many ways, Natwar Singh will not even be able to do an Arjun Singh. Recall the brief existence of a party called the Tiwari Congress and the limited damage it caused to the Congress in the 1996 elections. The fact is that the Tiwari Congress was conceived at 10 Janpath to irritate P.V.Narasimha Rao and it lost its relevance when Sitaram Kesri replaced Rao. And on their return to the party, Sonia Gandhi ensured that Arjun Singh, N.D.Tiwari and all others were rehabilitated with honour!

Natwar Singh cannot find company in his war against the party high command now because it is Sonia Gandhi who happens to be the high command now. And the only option he is left with now is to join an anti-Congress party. While the Left is sympathetic towards him and is actually willing to be seen as taking up his case against Manmohan Singh, there is no way that it can admit Natwar Singh into the party? The point is that it takes too long and a lot of procedural formalities to be completed before someone can become a member of the communist party.

This would mean that Natwar Singh could join Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party, become its face in the Jat dominated Western Uttar Pradesh. This will suit Mulayam Singh Yadav too; he is now having problems with Ajit Singh and will find Natwar Singh useful. The other option before Natwar Singh is to join the V.P.Singh-raj Babbar party (it is not clear whether it is a party or a platform or an association) and restrict himself to writing newspaper columns.

Natwar Singh does not seem inclined to retire from active politics and this would mean that he settles down in the Samajwadi Party and sing praises to Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh.

Be that as it may. The Justice Pathak Committee has revealed that Andaleeb Sehgal and Aditya Khanna had earned a lot of money in the Oil for Food deal with Iraq and all the money was not earned in the legitimate way. It is also a fact that these two un-enterprising businessmen managed to earn the money only because they had a relative called Natwar Singh who happened to be in a position to take them to Saddam Hussein. In other words, they got the oil coupons that they sold out to AG Masefield and make as much as 146,000 US Dollars without a letter from Natwar Singh introducing them to Saddam Hussein.

Natwar Singh now insists that he did not commit a crime by introducing these young men, who happen to be his relatives.

Well, one is reminded of an incident in the past when a 22 years old man managing to beat such leading automobile giants like Renault, Citreon, Toyota, Mazda and Morris and obtain a license to set up a car manufacturing unit. This happened in 1968. The young man happened to be Sanjay Gandhi. It is a familiar story that the Maruthi car was finally rolled out only after the enterprise was brought under the public sector.

When opposition leaders raised the issue in Parliament and wanted to know the basis on which Sanjay was given the license, Indira’s refrain was that Sanjay could not have been discouraged from such an enterprise simply because he was her son. The truth was that Sanjay could indulge in such adventure and loot resources only because he happened to be her son.

The point is let us not gloss over the abuse of power by Natwar Singh, his son Jagat Singh and his close associates and that they all became richer because of this. This cannot be condoned just because Natwar Singh is known to be anti-US or secular or holding any such virtues.


Anonymous KALPIT MANKIKAR said...

I agree with you. But I don’t know why a man of Natwar Singh’s erudition chose to earn 30 pieces of silver from a scheme devised to get milk power and baby food for Iraqi toddlers.

3:38 AM  

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