Recently written Natwar Singh’s autobiography, “One Life is not enough,” has created lots of controversy as he has blatantly attacked the Gandhi family. Natwar Singh has forgotten to mention many crucial issues of his life in his biography. When loyalist becomes ‘antagonist’ he/she is always become suspect in the eyes of public. In this case, one life is not enough in settling one’s personal scores. The book reveals many sensitive developments during Indira Gandhi’s, Rajiv Gandhi’s, Narasimha Rao’s and Manmohan Singh’s regimes. It also describes the changing delineations of Natwar Singh’s close but multifarious political relationship with Indian National Congress president Sonia Gandhi over the years. The book presents Natwar Singh’s account of the controversial Volcker report and the various political motions that took place in the background leading up to his resignation. The book is being called a Nuclear Bomb because it is expected to reveal even more about the inner workings of the Congress and its first family. Hence, there was immense speculation over whether Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi’s visit to Natwar Singh, days before the release was timed at reconciliation and to avoid a deeper awkwardness to themselves from exposés in the book. Natwar Singh’s autobiography may contain some truth but it can’t be taken as gospel truth. Every politician has a selfish motive behind their statement or outburst. Nevertheless, the proximity of Mr. Singh with power to be has given him an opportunity to closely observe many incidents/events both physically and psychologically. The country will be grateful to people who would really bring out the truth behind so many episodes, incidents and events which has close bearing with our great country.
In 1984, after resigning from the Indian Foreign Service, Singh joined the Congress party and was elected to the 8th Lok Sabha from Bharatpur constituency in Rajasthan. In 1985, he was sworn in as a minister of state and allotted the portfolios of steel, coal and mines, and agriculture. In 1986, he became minister of state for external affairs. Singh remained a minister of state for external affairs until the Congress party lost power after being defeated in the general elections of 1989. In those elections, he contested and lost the Mathura seat in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress party returned to power after the elections of 1991, with P.V. Narasimha Rao as Prime Minister since Rajiv Gandhi has lately been assassinated. At this time, Singh was not an MP and could not be a minister. His importance lay solely in perceived proximity to the Gandhi family, of which he was a staunch and avowed loyalist. He duly developed differences with the PM and left the party along with N.D. Tiwari and Arjun Singh, to form a new political party, the All India Indira Congress. In 1998, after P.V. Narasimha Rao had been shunted into obliviousness and Sonia Gandhi had regained complete control of the party, the three family loyalists merged their new party into the Congress party and returned into the service of the Gandhis. Singh was rewarded with a ticket to contest the general elections of 1998, and returned to parliament after a gap of nine years, when he was elected to the short-lived 12th Lok Sabha (1998-99) from Bharatpur. However, he had to sit in the opposition benches, and then he lost the elections in 1999. After a further hiatus of three years, he was elected (indirectly) to the Rajya Sabha from Rajasthan in 2002. The Congress party came back to power in 2004, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appointed Natwar Singh the External Affairs Minister.
On October 27, 2005, while Singh was abroad on an official visit, the Independent Inquiry Committee headed by Paul Volcker released the report on its investigation of corruption in the Oil-for-Food program. It stated inter alia that “India’s Congress party” and Natwar Singh’s family were non-contractual (corrupt) beneficiaries of the Oil for Food programme. The report stated that Natwar Singh, his son Jagat Singh and Jagat’s childhood friend Andaleeb Sehgal, were associated with a company called Hamdan Exports, which acted as an intermediary for illegal sales of oil to a Swiss firm named Masefield AG. In return for these illegal sales, Masefield paid kickbacks, partly to Saddam Hussein’s regime and partly to Natwar Singh and others. It was alleged that such kickbacks were Hussein’s way of securing support from politicians around the world and that this benefit influenced Natwar Singh to lobby against US policies in Iraq. This scandal represented a serious crisis for the ruling coalition, because the implication was that the Congress party, which had been away from power for nearly a decade, had indulged in international corruption to replenish its coffers and fight elections. Natwar Singh’s closeness to the Gandhi family was well-known, and it was generally surmised that he had acted as a front for that family and the party. A need was felt for the party (and ruling family) to distance itself from Natwar Singh, and also to find a scapegoat on whom the blame could be transferred, so that party and family alike could proclaim themselves clean. A convenient occasion was supplied by Anil Mathrani, then Indian Ambassador to Croatia and formerly a close aide to Natwar Singh, who alleged that Natwar Singh had used an official visit to Iraq to procure oil coupons for Jagat Singh from Saddam’s regime. Natwar Singh then resigned from the Congress party. He announced his resignation at a BJP-sponsored rally of Natwar Singh’s own Jat community held at Jaipur in the presence of Vasundhara Raje, then Chief Minister of Rajasthan. On this occasion, Natwar Singh not only asserted his innocence but also launched a bitter attack on Sonia Gandhi for having failed to defend or support him. However, Natwar Singh did not join the BJP. Instead, in mid-2008, both Singh and his son Jagat joined Mayawati’s BSP, only to be expelled by that party within four months (in November 2008) for alleged indiscipline, anti-party activities and “lack of faith” in the ideology of the Bahujan Samaj Movement. Natwar Singh, now 77 years of age, and having suffered several personal tragedies in a short period, retired from public life.
Ritu Singh, the 30-year-old daughter, was found dead in her Vasant Vihar D-Block residence, it is believed that she had committed suicide. However, there was no official word on this by the family or the police officials. She had hanged herself with the belt of her nightgown. The body was found in her bedroom with the door locked from within. That was the second tragedy in his family within two months. Earlier to this incident, his estranged daughter-in-law, Natasha Singh was found dead in Hyatt Regency hotel. The police initially said Natasha may have been murdered, later they said murder was not certain. These two deaths are still a mystery.
Natwar always changed his loyalties. He was involved in scams, his personal family details are not there in his writing, then how we can call it biography? His only ‘agenda’ is to attack Gandhi family and seek favours from the BJP.
(Inputs from agencies)