Recall the Oil for Food scam probed by the UN appointed Volcker Committee which submitted its report seven years ago. Mr. Natwar Singh was sacked from the cabinet for alleged involvement in that deal after the Justice Pathak Commission probing the deal submitted its report. One would like to refresh the reader’s memory by what appeared in the article "Can Corrupt Politicians Preserve Freedom?" on August 15, 2006.
“The Pathak Report most conveniently dovetailed with the political objectives of the Congress. Mr. Natwar Singh "misused" his position but took no money. Therefore he deserved cabinet expulsion but no legal conviction. The Congress itself was exonerated. Mrs. Sonia Gandhi wrote a letter to President Saddam introducing Mr. Natwar Singh. At the same time Mr. Natwar Singh wrote letters introducing Mr. Andaleeb Sehgal. The Pathak Authority considered Mr. Natwar Singh a facilitator. Why not Mrs. Sonia Gandhi too? Mr. Natwar Singh told media he fully briefed Mrs. Gandhi after his Iraq visit. He said: "I have not done anything in Iraq without the knowledge of Sonia Gandhi....Not even a leaf moves in the Congress without Mrs. Gandhi's knowledge."
If this is true, whether or not she saw his three letters becomes irrelevant. The amount allegedly pocketed by Mr. Andaleeb Sehgal and Mr. Aditya Khanna is a small fraction of the money realized from the vouchers. Where did the rest go? If Congress was the beneficiary it would distance itself from Mr. Sehgal and Mr. Khanna. Mr. Natwar Singh's letters left a trail. Was that what angered the Congress? The key question is whether or not Mrs. Sonia Gandhi knew of the oil vouchers enterprise. Until all the money earned from the oil vouchers is traced a final conclusion would be hasty. Even though the Pathak Report exonerated Mr. Natwar Singh from taking money he could not spill the beans. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) leaked to media information about the money trail leading to Mr. Natwar Singh's son, Jagat. The government therefore can arrest Mr. Jagat Singh at will. Was that why Mr. Natwar Singh first rubbished the PM and later apologized?”
Subsequently Mr. Natwar Singh made a sensational statement that he feared for the safety of his grandson’s life which was why he remained silent. Responding to that statement this writer expressed astonishment in these columns about the similarity between national politics and Mafia gang wars. All these facts are being recalled because of the latest development related to the Volcker Report. Five years ago the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) responding to a Right to Information (RTI) query denied possession of the reports of the Volcker Committee communicated to it by India’s special envoy on the committee, Mr. Virendra Dayal. But now the PMO has admitted to the Central Information Commission CIC) that it is in possession of the reports but will not make them public.
The brazen conduct of the government is astonishing. It must inform the public why it lied to the CIC in the first place. It must also explain to the public why the Volcker Commission Report cannot be made public. The government’s refusal to divulge the contents of the report makes mockery of the RTI Act. The public will draw the obvious conclusion that once again the PMO is protecting corruption of its leadership which if exposed would not only unseat the government but even disenfranchise the Congress Party.