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Congress suspends Natwar Singh for indiscipline

By Super

New Delhi, Aug 9: Taking a serious view of former External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh's outbursts against the party and his rebellious mood, the Congress suspended him last night from the primary membership of the party for indiscipline.

The party also served showcause notice to Mr Singh, asking him to explain the notice for privilege motion given by him in the Rajya Sabha against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for leakage of Pathak committee report. The showcause notice also asked him to explain why he should not be expelled from the party.

The decision to suspend Mr Singh from the party was taken at a late night meeting of the Congress Disciplinary Committee, headed by Mr A K Antony and attended by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, AICC Treasurer Motilal Vora and Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

The Showcause notice also asked Mr Singh to explain the reasons for the three letters that he wrote misusing the AICC letter head. Mr Singh, who is accused of being a non-contractual beneficiary of the UN Oil for Food programme, has been indicted by the R S Pathak Committee in his report finding him guilty of misusing his position as the then Chairperson of the foreign cell of the Congress in securing oil contract from Iraq for people close to him.

Mr Singh had a grouse that he had been made a scapegoat in the Pathak Committee report while the Congress which too was accused for being a non-contractual beneficiary of Oil for Food programme has been exonerated. Mr Singh antagonised the Congress by giving a notice of privilege motion against the Prime Minister but also hobnobbed with opposition leaders known to be very critical of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Mr Singh was removed from the post of External Affairs Minister last year after the Volcker Committee report on UN Oil for Food Scam came to light.

Upon the opposition demand for a probe into the matter, the R S Pathak committee was constituted to enquire into Volcker allegations. Mr Singh was subsequently also removed as Congress Working Committee (CWC) member pending enquiry by the Pathak Committee.

After the Pathak Committee report was submitted, Mr Singh threatened to spill the beans on the Congress if he was pushed to corner by the party.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a member of the Disciplinary Committee, later told newspersons that the show cause notice to be issued shortly gives two weeks time to Mr Singh to reply from the date of its receipt. He clarified that the suspension was not the ''final punishment.'' If the Disciplinary Committee is satisfied with the explanation, there will be no cause for further action.

He said Mr Singh had brought disrepute to the party necessitating action against him.

Meanwhile, Mr Singh, reacting to the suspension from the primary membership of the party, said he has not received the suspension letter and has only come to know about it through TV.

''Mein uska muhtod jawab doonga'' (I will give a befitting reply to the show cause notice), he asserted.

Reacting to Mr Mukherjee's comment that he had brought disrepute to the party, Mr Singh said that there were several people in the cabinet who have many allegations against them. He said Mr Mukherjee himself was thrown out from the party for six years by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.


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