Fri, 01 Aug 2014 07:00:00 GMT | By PTI

Natwar continues attack on ‘ruthless’ Sonia, Congress reacts sharply

Singh launched a scathing attack on Gandhi when he raked up her Italian origin, suggesting that her "ruthless" side came from it as "no Indian would have treated me" like she did to him


Natwar continues attack on ‘ruthless’ Sonia, Congress reacts sharply (© Reuters)

New Delhi: Former foreign minister Natwar Singh's autobiography continued to raise a political storm with Congress president Sonia Gandhi hitting back saying she will come out with her own book, which will reveal the "truth".

She got strong backing from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who dubbed Natwar Singh's version of why Gandhi refused to become Prime Minister and on other issues as a "marketing gimmick".

"I will write my own book and then you will come to know everything ... the only way truth will come out is if I write ... I am serious about it and I will be writing," Gandhi told reporters in Parliament House.

Gandhi was reacting to a question about the row triggered by the autobiography of Natwar Singh in which he claims that it was Rahul Gandhi's fear for her life that prevented her from becoming Prime Minister contracting her version that she heeded to her "inner voice" in not taking up the post.

Natwar rakes up Sonia's Italian origin

Insisting that she was not hurt, Gandhi said that she had seen worse things like her husband Rajiv Gandhi being assassinated and her mother-in-law Indira Gandhi riddled with bullets. "I am far from getting hurt from these things. These things do not affect me," she said.

Singh (83), an estranged Gandhi family friend, had quit the Congress in 2008 after he had to resign from the UPA-I Government in 2005 in the wake of the Iraqi food-for-oil scam.

The book titled "One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography" is to hit the stands on Friday. The former external affairs minister, a Nehru-Gandhi family loyalist, also said the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was sent to Sri Lanka in 1987 by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi without "clear briefing objectives" and that his Sri Lanka policy ended in his assassination.

When asked if he was fonder of Rajiv than Sonia, Natwar Singh snapped back saying it was so because "he did not behave like his wife did".

"No Indian would treat a man who was loyal to family for 45 years who had been very close to her and 30 years older. .... It is just not done in India. There is a part (of Sonia) which is ruthless," he said. Asked if that was her Italian part, he shot back, asking what else can it be adding, "some part of it is not India."

"Jawarlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi would not be like that," he added. Reacting to his claims, Manmohan Singh said "this is their way of trying to market their product". "Private conversations should not be made public for capital gains," he said.

The Congress party also stepped up its attack on Natwar Singh accusing him of making "allegations" and "distorting" facts about Sonia Gandhi.

Reminding him that he had tried to join BJP at one point of time after being expelled from Congress and that his son is currently a BJP MLA from Rajasthan, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said, "We condemn all insinuation, allegations and innuendos."

Singhvi, at the same time, refrained from rejecting the contention of Singh that Rahul Gandhi had vehemently opposed his mother Sonia taking up the Prime Minister's post fearing that she would be killed like his father and grandmother if she accepted it.

"I am not doing it piecemeal. We deny all allegations and inuendos ... It is unfortunate that a person who rose to occupy a top post due to Congress and was made aware of many sensitive facts, misuses and distorts those facts after being removed and publishes baseless" things," Singhvi said.

He said that "spreading such sensationalism for shoring up the sale of a book" cannot be approved.

Asked whether Congress could file a case of defamation against Natwar Singh, Singhvi said, "Let us see" but added nothing like this has been decided as yet. Pressed further, he said, "Political issues are dealt politically and legal issues are dealt legally."

A party leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that such issues do not have a long life and they wear out with the passage of time and, hence, it makes no sense to give them a longer life by taking the legal recourse of defamation.

He said that what Natwar Singh did is "betrayal" after having enjoyed confidence. "The truth is that Sonia Gandhi was herself very reluctant and uncomfortable about accepting the Prime Minister's post. Rahul's opposition was not the only thing in that context," he said.

He said that he was not aware whether Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi went to meet Natwar Singh to request him not to publish certain things, but even "if it is correct, then it is double betrayal by Singh".

Asked about Singh's allegations that files went to Sonia Gandhi from the PMO, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, speaking separately, said that he himself had been a Union Minister and "Sonia Gandhi never called for any such thing from me. There is no question of files being sent to her."

Wading into the controversy, BJP attacked Sonia Gandhi and sought a reply from her on the issues raised by Natwar Singh in his latest book. The party also asked her to clarify if she had gone to meet Singh to stop him from writing the book as claimed by the former Congress leader.

"Sonia Gandhi does not have a reply to the issues raised by Natwar Singh. She is not telling if she had gone to Natwar Singh to stop him from writing the book," BJP spokesman Shahnawaz Hussain said.

He also attacked Rahul Gandhi saying, "... He says I want to live for the country, so now he should tell that if a soldier gets scared then who will protect our country. The chair of Prime Minister is a crown of thorns, your life is at stake there but to serve the country people accept it."

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