20 October, 2020

'Very Close Associate Of Vajpayee Was Partner In Oil Deals'

'Why did the then government not take any action [on the Jan 2004 report which named the Congress party]? ... If they [Iraqis] can make offers to Bhim Singh, why will they not make offers to people sitting in the government?'

Jitender Gupta
'Very Close Associate Of Vajpayee Was Partner In Oil Deals'
Former foreign secretary Romesh Bhandari, who also served as India's ambassador to Iraq, has said that a person considered very close to former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was also involved in the oil deals with Iraq. The allegation cannot be considered frivolous because Bhandari, before becoming the head of the foreign cell of the Congress, had served as envoy to many countries and still maintains contacts there. In an interview to Narendra Bhalla and Smita Gupta, the ex-diplomat recalled how his sources in Baghdad informed him in 2000-2001 that certain individuals from India were raking in crores in the oil deals. Excerpts:

You were once Indian ambassador to Iraq, and you still have sources there. What, according to you, is the real story behind the oil deals?
In my understanding, Saddam Hussein and his colleagues wanted support from other countries—from governments, not from political parties. They also wanted Indian support, and at that time the NDA was in power. So the question arises that if even petty individuals were given oil vouchers,...



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