MOTION FOR CONDEMNATION OF ALLEGED INVOLVEMENT OF INDIAN ENTITIES AND INDIVIDUALS AS NON-CONTRACTUAL BENEFICIARIES OF UNITED NATIONS' OIL-FOR-FOOD-PROGRAMME IN IRAQ AS REPORTED BY VOLCKER COMMITTE
29 November 2005
SHRI SHARAD ANANTRAO JOSHI (MAHARASHTRA): Mr. Deputy Chairman Sir, I am one of the fifteen movers of the Motion and I am getting possibly the last opportunity to speak on this subject. But I had signed the Motion with the hope that my party and I would be able to put before the House our position on what we call the 'Saddamgate of UPA'. And the position is very similar to the Watergate. When the first news appeared about the Watergate, the first reaction of President Nixon was, “I would not be drawn into any controversy about a third-rate burglary”.
Starting from giving a clean chit, step by step, playing the damage containment action, the party is moving in the right direction. I do not know why, they took an opposite position in the beginning. Nixon, one can understand taking a vicious position, but the Congress, as so many mentioned, has a long glorious tradition and should not have fallen a victim to this kind of tactic. But as they say,
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The great Ravana, how did he not know that kidnapping other man's wife could be wrong? How did Rama know that the golden deer couldn't exist? How did Yudhistira play the dice? It happened because even the great men, when the disaster and the fall comes, suddenly start thinking in an awkward manner.
I would say that my party stands for real truth finding in this case. And 'truth finding', I’m defining it in a very clear way. Shri Sitaram Yechury mentioned that the Foreign Minister of the United States did not think highly about the Volcker Report. I don't care. Then, even Shri Kapil Sibal mentioned that the Report does not prove anything. And I would say that even if the Report came to the conclusion that Mr. Natwar Singh and the Congress Party will be held guilty, would you really, immediately, put them in jail? I would be opposed to that. I would stand to defend them in that case because these people have to be found guilty by a legal procedure, and in an enquiry procedure of India, and not of any other party. Simply because some other party says that they are guilty, I wouldn’t accept it. In this case, for example, I would say that there has been talk only about Mr. Natwar Singh's case and the Congress Party has not been mentioned here.
I would like to say that there is much more to be done on the front of the Congress Party's responsibility. Nobody has tried to point out the smoking gun at anybody else. Now, on the sort of things that are required to be examined, I would like to point out that there is a letter, signed on behalf of the Congress Party, addressed to Saddam Hussein, which forms a part of the record of the Volcker Committee, and I hope that they all have a copy of that. Secondly, there is a mention in the Volcker Committee Report about a Letter of Credit which was issued by a particular company, Vittol Limited, which has an office in Mumbai. The Letter of Credit could not have been issued unless the other party was consulted and we know which party was consulted on that. We have concrete proof about it.
Thirdly, what happened to the money that the Congress Party earned? There is clear evidence that it came. Firstly, it was deposited in an account in the Bank of America, Cayman Islands, and from there it came to India by a participatory note which cannot be disclosed because of a modification made by Mr P. Chidambaram, and even by the SEBI. Now, even if we permitted the SEBI to open that secrecy and let us know who is responsible for that kind of a note, then I think most of the facts would be clear and all these facts point out. (Removed from proceedings by Mr. Dy. Chairman)