In this Idea Exchange moderated by Contributing Editor Coomi Kapoor, former external affairs minister Natwar Singh says that while the Congress may need to reinvent itself, right now its only bet is the Nehru-Gandhi family. He adds that he believes that PM Modi has a vision.
Natwar Singh: One thing that has distressed me is that my book (One Life is Not Enough) is being treated as Sonia-centric. There’s much more in the book — about my life of 83 years, my views. I faced difficulty in choosing the title. The first one I had in mind was ‘Passing By’. The next one was ‘A Double Life’. And the third one was somewhat like ‘The Autobiography of a Known Indian’. Then I decided on ‘One Life is Not Enough’. Now I am writing another book. It will take another 18 months to two years, provided I am still around.
Coomi Kapoor: In your book, you have said that you were made the fall guy for the Volcker report.
The Volcker report mentions the Congress party, Natwar Singh and corporate houses. My son’s name is not mentioned in it. Distinguished first world colleagues in the foreign service kept saying ‘Volcker, Natwar Singh’. Why don’t they mention the Congress? Justice Pathak in his inquiry concluded that there is no material to show that Natwar Singh made any personal financial gain from the deal. But my son and I were chargesheeted. An Enforcement Directorate (ED) case is still on. Same with Income-Tax — it’s been going on for the last eight years. We have been hounded all our lives. They say (order) ‘Upar se aaya hai’. Now the ‘upar’ has changed. So, let’s see.
Coomi Kapoor: What was the reason that the Finance Ministry went after you with such vengeance?
I’ll tell you why. I was in Moscow, holding talks with the President and Foreign Minister there. When I returned the next morning, our ambassador in New York called me and said that this report has been released the day before and the Congress, myself and corporate houses have been mentioned in it as non-contractual beneficiaries. I was astounded. My first reaction was to leave for New York and Frankfurt and confront Volcker because he had not informed us. Then I thought, why should I waste my time. Meanwhile, the Congress started saying that Natwar Singh will look after himself. This statement couldn’t have been made without Sonia Gandhi’s approval. I had expected continued…