New Delhi: Former external affairs minister and a staunch Congress supporter Natwar Singh on Friday put a stamp over the much talked about ‘dynastic rule’ in the Congress party by saying that there is no ‘number one, two or three’ in the grand old party as the Gandhi family rules it leaving rest of the party leaders at a much lower level.
Talking exclusively to Zee Media Corp, Singh said, “Sonia and Rahul rule the Congress party, there is no number one, two or three position in it.”
By showing the hierarchy in the Congress party (gesturing by his hand), Singh said, “Sonia and Rajiv are here (top), collective leadership is here (bottom).
Dismissing questions about the timing of his just-released book “One Life is not enough: An autobiography”, Singh said, “I started writing the book in 2011. It takes two to three years to write a book. I never thought about the timing, whether it was before the elections or later. The book was published after it finished.”
Singh in his book has stated that Congress president Sonia Gandhi did not become prime minister in May 2004 because her son Rahul Gandhi did not want her to take up the responsibility as he was afraid that she would be killed like his father Rajiv Gandhi.
On various Congress leaders terming the book as an act of revenge and remarks of former PM Manmohan Singh that Natwar’s claims as ‘marketing tactics’, Singh said, “If he said such a thing then Manmohan Singh is a ‘ghatiya insaan’ (cheap person). He never had the courage to stand in front of Sonia Gandhi.”
He further recalled Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s insult of Manmohan Singh by calling the Ordinance on convicted MPs and MLAs utter nonsense.
“What our government has done is completely wrong. This Ordinance should torn away and thrown away,” Rahul had said.
“Despite all this, Manmohan Singh never stood for his colleagues. Still I do not have any bitter feelings for anyone,” the expelled Congress leader said.
Flaying the foreign policy of the UPA governments, Natwar Singh said, “They never paid attention to their neighbours.”
About the chapter on Sonia Gandhi in his book, Singh said, “I share a good relationship with the Gandhi family. Sonia is an expert in many fields like art, music, painting, etc. She reads a lot. But she is weak in politics.”
“I thought Congress would get at least 80-90 seats in the 2014 elections. But in spite of the poor show I think if Sonia was removed the tally would have dropped to 4 from 44. Where as if Rahul was dropped it would have bagged at least 30 seats,” Singh added.
Singh said that Rahul Gandhi’s concern about his mother’s security was natural. And added that had (Rahul) been a true leader he would have asked his mother to take up the top job while assuring her security.
“He (Rahul) turned out to be a good son, but could not gather the courage to say that ‘I will shield you mother’,” Singh said.
“Rahul is a good man but lacks the ‘fire’. Politics is not a part-time job, it is a 24×7 job. There should be fire in the belly to achieve something and he lacks that attitude,” Singh added.
The former external affairs minister however, reserved some appreciation for the Gandhi [party scion as well. He said, “Rahul has spoken very less in the Parliament but has been appreciated by all whenever he did so.”
On Rajiv Gandhi, the 83-year-old well-wisher of Gandhi family, said, “Sri Lanka policy led to his assassination. He was badly advised. My book is not Sonia-centric. But unfortunately nobody asks me about Rajiv Gandhi. He was a man with a big heart.”
When asked about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into politics, Singh said, “Then what will Rahul do?”
“We all pleaded in front of Priyanka but she denied to join politics. She has the ‘charisma’ of the Gandhi family,” he added.
Also, when quizzed about Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi’s reported meeting with him, Natwar Singh said, “You can read about the meeting in my book. She did not come to have dinner at my place.”
“I cannot edit my autobiography, but I assure you that I will write only the truth and nothing sub-standard,” he added.
Adding that he was an 83-year-old man who wanted to leave his legacy to his grandchildren, Singh said that there was more to his 400-page book than Sonia Gandhi.
When asked about his claims that files were transferred from 7 Race Course Road to 10 Janpath during the UPA government’s term, Singh defended his statement by saying, “Do you think Pulok Chatterjee went to have lunch with her? Will the Prime Minister say that he sent files to her?”
Former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh, however, had categorically stated that no files were sent from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to Sonia Gandhi’s 10 Janpath residence for clearance during his tenure.
“UPA-1 functioned well but not UPA-2. Dr Manmohan Singh should be blamed for UPA-2’s failure,” Singh said.
The former external affairs minister also said that he did not act out of bitterness in his life, and that if he had ever been bitter, he would have lost respect in his own eyes.
“Never reply to your critics,” Singh said, and added, “If I was the adviser of Sonia Gandhi, I would have suggested her not to respond to ‘Natwar Singh’s’ book.”
Singh added that the strong reaction from Sonia Gandhi to his new book, proves that it has touched a “raw nerve” and something has “upset” her enough to bring her our of her shell.
In 2005, when Natwar Singh was on an official trip abroad, the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by Paul Volcker had alleged that both his family and the Congress party were non-contractual beneficiaries of the UN’s programme which allowed Iraq — then under international economic sanction — to exchange oil for food. Speculation was rife that the Congress had used illegal kickbacks from the programme to successfully fight the 2004 elections, given how close Natwar Singh was to Sonia Gandhi and the top Congress leadership.
Reacting to these allegations, Singh said, “There is no armour against fate. There is no bitterness.”
When asked whether he would accept BJP’s proposal to become a Governor, Singh said, “No, not at all. There are enough young leaders in BJP.”
When asked whether the book was an approach to promote his son Jagat Singh, a BJP MLA from Rajasthan, Natwar Singh said, “He (Jagat) has won from the toughest constituency. He is capable enough to make his own position in the party.”