Wikileaks: Aiyar says he was not surprised by his removal

Posted By: Pti
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Mani Shankar Aiyar
New Delhi, Mar 15: Mani Shankar Aiyar, an Iran gas pipeline advocate whose removal as Petroleum Minister in 2006 had been linked to alleged US pressure in leaked diplomatic cables, today said he was not surprised when he was relieved "at the first opportunity" of the "temporary charge".

"I was told explicitly that it was a temporary charge. I thought I will be there (Petroleum Ministry) for a week or two. It turned out to be 20 months. So it is not surprising that at the first opportunity when the reshuffle took place I was relieved of my temporary charge," the Congress leader said when asked about the secret US diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website Wikileaks.

Asked whether there was any US influence on Cabinet reshuffle, Aiyar said, "How would I know. I was given temporary charge of Oil Ministry." However, Aiyar said that even after reshuffle he was part of the Cabinet.

"I was part of the government at that time. Even after the reshuffle I was not thrown out of the government, I remained in the government," Aiyar told reporters outside Parliament.

Petroleum Ministry was taken from Aiyar and given to Congress MP Murli Deora during the UPA cabinet reshuffle in 2006.

CPI(M) members in Rajya Sabha today raised the issue about the diplomatic cables in which then US Ambassador to India David C Mulford reportedly described change in the Petroleum portfolio as a "determination to ensure that US-India relations continue to move ahead rapidly".


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