Natwar Singh quits Rajya Sabha

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{image-Natwar singh15_22022008.jpg www.oneindia.com}New Delhi, Feb 22: Former External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh today resigned his membership in the Rajya Sabha, relieving the Congress of the burden of pressing his disqualification for lowering the prestige of the party through his alleged involvement in the Iraqi oil-for-food scam.

Seventy seven-year-old Singh today submitted his resignation to Rajya Sabha Chairman Mohammed Hamid Ansari even though he had six more weeks for the completion of his present six-year term in the Upper House. He was elected on a Congress ticket from Rajasthan. "Mr Singh had a meeting with Mr Ansari after his resignation letter was delivered separately," a Rajya Sabha official told the sources. Mr Singh left for Bangalore after his meeting with Mr Ansari.

He resigned from the primary membership of the Congress Party on Wednesday, ending a decades-old relationship with the Gandhi-Nehru family.

Mr Singh resigned from the Congress, though the Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC), headed by Defence Minister A K Antony, was yet to take a decision on his expulsion. However, the petition of the Congress seeking his disqualification is pending before the Rajya Sabha Chairman.

He was suspended from the party in August 2006 in the wake of the report by the Justice R S Pathak panel which went into the role of Indian entities in the multi-million-dollar Iraqi oil-for-food scam.

The Pathak panel was appointed by the government after the findings of the UN's Volcker Committee on the scam in which Mr Singh and his son were among the Indian entities named as beneficiaries.

The scam took place during the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2002.

Mr Singh, who was heading the Foreign Cell of the All India Congress Committee for a long period before he was made External Affairs Minister in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet in May 2004, fell out of favour with the party high command after his name figured in the scam. Following the scandal, he had to quit the Union Cabinet in early 2006.

Mr Singh today said that he had not yet decided which party he would join. However, indications were that he would join the BJP.

A few days ago, he was seen sharing the dais with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia at a BJP-sponsored Jat rally to mark the 300th birth anniversary of Maharaja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur in Vidyadhar Nagar.

He also announced his resignation from the Congress at the rally and launched a blistering attack on party President and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

"A foreigner can never understand the sentiments of love, respect and sacrifice," he said at the rally, taking a dig at Ms Gandhi.

UNI

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