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Natwar Singh’s book: “a marketing gimmick”

Highlights of the Press briefing Held at 1615 Hours 31.07.2014

Shri Abhishek Singhvi addressed the media today.

Shri Abhishek Singhvi said we categorically deny all allegations, insinuations and innuendoes by Shri Natwar Singh which he has made as a prelude to the publication of his book. Of course, we note the necessity to sensationalize such matters on the eve of publication because that is vital to increase sales. We also note his studied silence for nine long years and his outburst immediately after the government has changed. We also note his expulsion from the Congress party and his unceremonious exit from the government amidst serious allegations in the VOLCKER report. We also note his repeated attempts, to join the BJP and his son’s membership of that party for many years and his current MLA status. All these and several more admitted and objective facts, I repeat, admitted and objective facts tell their own tale – a tale which is very different from the tale which Mr. Natwar Singh promises to tell in his book. It is, of course, highly regrettable that persons who have enjoyed high positions of power and entrusted to them by and on behalf of the Congress party, persons who have been privy to delicate situations to sensitive and confidential information misuse and distort such confidentiality for commercial purposes based purely on subjective assumptions and outburst based on imaginary and non-existed facts.

On the question of the reaction of the Congress party over the CAG report on Gujarat, Shri Singhvi said you are right in way because we have been caught up one day after another with serious issue which this government has provided to the nation and there is no option but for the opposition to raise them. We can promise you we are not at all unaware of it and it shall be coming up in parliament soon but obviously the bugging issue which the government is refusing to accede to independent enquiry has consumed of parliamentary time yesterday and today but let me tell you the CAG issue is absolutely no less serious. We have shared it with you outside the floor of the parliament. You know many of the facts. I am going to distribute at the end of this Press conference very detailed dossier for your convenience and for your consumption it has got all the relevant facts in one place but I would like to summarize some of the startling and shocking facts. Who is this person talking of CAG and accountability and honesty and corruption – the BJP Mr. Modi – the CAG -I am giving you only about 25% of some points of the report. It slammed the Gujarat government in its 5 different audit reports over a period of time pointing out mismanagement of financial resources aggregating to Rs. 25,000 crore. The CAG has said .e.g. that two grants of Rs. 13,000 crores total remained unused. It is said e.g. again that in one year 2012-13 almost Rs. 5,000 crores were transferred from the government of India at that time UPA government but were not passed on to the state Treasury system. It has blamed the government saying that although almost 50,000 crores have been invested in statutory corporations, the return it is getting is what? – not 1%, not 0.50%, not even a quarter% but 0.24%. Have you ever given your money on interest on 0.24%? Then government is doing it for Rs. 50,000 crore to statutory corporations.

Revenue surplus – the Gujarat government has been claiming in the public domain and the amount it has claimed is Rs. 5,500 crores. The CAG says it is grossly over stated. Look at the irony – the B JP has been slamming us that the previous UPA government mis-stated the fiscal deficit figure. The moment they come to power, Mr. Jaitley adopts our figure and endorses it and here the CAG is saying that the Gujarat government’s revenue surplus figure is grossly overstated. Look at the irony, look at the dishonesty. The CAG further says that already during a previous BJP government the Gujarat government exceeded all limits of debts and reached Rs. 50,000 crores. It was more than ever before more than any previous government. Now it says under Mr. Modi it attained a new height of Rs. 50,000 crores during Keshubhai Patel has become Rs. 1.05 lakh crore in 2008-09 and Rs. 1.66 lakh crore i.e. over one a half lakh crore in 2012-13. The debt of Gujarat cannot be paid by two, three, four generations and if I remember Mr. Modi talked of inter- generational -equity. The Auditor says that although the share of investment in PSUs is increasing, the share of PSUs in the state GDP is declining in Gujarat which shows inefficiency and mismanagement of PSUs.   It goes on- Education is a very sorry state – staff shortage in 16 Engineering colleges – 90% of Professors’ posts are lying vacant. This is CAG not me not Congress.

Shri Singhvi said we will take up this matter shortly in the parliament because there are other pressing matters. What happened to your interest in the CAG – what is limited to pre May 2014.  Now I would like to conclude and I would hand out the details to you, these are matters of great public interest, these are not individual matters. I am not talking of A, B or C – this is institutional lack of accountability, distortion and inefficiency and to divert your attention from this, Gujarat government is talking of trips where some money according to them is spent by the governor of the state. The GG has not told why during the tenure of the governor the Gujarat never objected to such trips. They have the right to object. The Gujarat government knows very well the relationship between the former CM, present PM and the Governor. As Prime Minister, the former CM transfers the Governor to Mizoram and within a few days of departure the Dirty Tricks Department start releasing figures. No details are given but you are not interested and nor is Gujarat government interested in debating Rs. 29,000 crore on the CAG report. You are interested in 53 trips and that too of a constitutional functionary which normally we don’t. This is typical digressive, diversionary distortion tactics. The typical 3D formula of the BJP, I don’t think it cuts much ice with the public of this country.

On the question of the meetings of Smt. Sonia Gandhi and Ms. Priyanka Gandhi with Mr. Natwar Singh, Shri Singhvi said my first sentence was we deny all allegations innuendoes and insinuations because of the personal relations. The meetings may or may not have taken place. I am not concerned because of personal relations. Meetings may have taken place, we are not denying or accepting, it is irrelevant, what we are denying is the contents attributed to such meetings. What we are specially is denying all the subjectivity, the opinion, the verdict, the conclusion given by him and we stand by the denial.

To another question that Mr. Natwar Singh has talked about three more persons who are witness including the former Prime Minister, Shri Singhvi said I don’t think it is advised to all of you because I am not going to say more or less. Now you are dissecting each part of his statement but certainly it is a democracy it is purview to check, not for me to check.  I am not ruling out anything, I am not ruling in anything I know political issues are met politically, legal issues are met legally. I am not saying anything.

To another question if Smt. Sonia Gandhi is writing a book, Shri Singhvi said there is no question of not welcoming a Congress President statement to write a book by the Congress Party. We know that it appears to be your scoop but the point is that although that book may take a little while, we will certainly await it and we are happy to note that.  What I have said to you today is very clear statement of the Congress party’s stand on people who enjoy certain position and then behave and speak like this.

To a question over bugging issue to be taken up in Rajya but in Lok Sabha, Shri Singhvi said these are perceptions, they vary, I agree with you that these are perceptions which vary from issue to issue. Also to an extent numbers make a difference because you look at number and we accept that we have low         numbers but low numbers are in no manner a deterrent to the Congress party as far as an issue is concerned. If an issue which is something which we think is important, we are not in to frivolous issue, but if we find an issue of national importance or public importance, we will raise even ‘eklachalo’, we will raise it collectively but we will raise it.

To another question on Insurance Bill and the Congress party’s policy of going slow tactics, Shri Singhvi said I don’t think that is true. I do not agree with your description of slow tactics. We are in fact very flattered that people can do such volte face to flatter us by imitation. I am reminding you that you are the people who have covered this parliament. Mr. Chidambaram went to both the leaders of the opposition in both the Houses virtually pleading for 49%. You have it on record. There was no direct rebuttal but in the House, on the floor, they opposed. You can draw your own conclusion about those are hypocritical. Certainly it is our proposal and ultimately the details will matter in principle, how can we oppose broadly the principle which we have propounded; we will look at the details when it comes.

Coming back to the alleged revelation by Mr. Natwar Singh about Smt. Sonia Gandhi not accepting the post of the Prime Minister, is that the reason that Shri Rahul Gandhi had also not accepted the leadership, Shri Singhvi said I am happy to note that you have not either left your obsession with the Congress Vice President of the Congress party nor your obsession of your questions longer than my answers. I have said what I wanted to say. As far as the rest is concerned; it is Mr. Natwar Singh’s view.

On the question whether the Congress party will be raising the bugging issue, Shri Singhvi said our stand is very clear. We have made it very clear. I don’t need to repeat it. I summarize it for you in one minute. We have heard in 24 hours at least four versions. There is a version of no less than the national spokesperson of the BJP Mr. MJ Akbar who is not an ordinary person, there is a version of  Mr. Subramaniam Swamy, there is the original version of Mr. Nitin Gadkari, there is a later statement of Mr. Rajnath Singh and there is still later version of Mr. Gadkari himself. Now in an issue like this, I think the country is entitled to get a comprehensive denial. If you read Mr. Rajnath Singh’s statement carefully, it simply says that the victim is not complaining. The Congress party would have expected a statement which says that so and so agency verified physically,   so and so locations on physical verification of as location a, b and c, so and so was found so and so was not found. We, therefore, give a reasoned report that nothing is amiss.  At least I have not yet seen such a report. Anyway a statement has been made in the parliament; let us see as the facts unfold. If we find facts contrary to a comma, full stop what is said in parliament, you know the consequences of parliamentary privilege.

Sd/-

(Tom Vadakkan)

Secretary

Communication Deptt.

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