Parkash Singh Badal. Photo: V. Sudershan
CHANDIGARH: The Shiromani Akali Dal has pointed towards "a strong Punjab dimension" to the multi-billion dollar "Oil for Food" scam involving the Congress party, with serious allegations against External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh.
Through a statement here the party has charged that almost all the principal players were not only linked to Punjab, but had been active in various questionable activities in the State due to their proximity to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. "Apart from the modus operandi employed by men of shady characters in using front organisations, such as those figuring in the Punjab Intranet scam, there were a lot of other things providing a clue to the Punjab angle to this international scandal," the statement said.
While the party has demanded that Mr. Singh be sacked immediately, it said Prime Minster Manmohan Singh must own moral responsibility and make public the role being played by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in the episode which was linked to the country's security, diplomatic standing and business interests.
"After disclosure made by Volcker, the Congress and the its president are left with no escape routes," Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal was quoted as saying. There was enough prima facie evidence to prove a shady connection between the main accused in the Iraq scam and those around Capt. Amarinder Singh, he said.
Mr. Badal said the key figure in the scandal, Amdy Singh, apart from being a relative of Natwar Singh and Amarinder Singh, was always a favoured beneficiary.
Not only does he have a major share in several contracts granted by the Punjab Government, but was also provided out of turn and priority security umbrella by the Punjab Police.
This, Mr. Badal said, was intriguing as Amdy Singh was neither a public figure nor faced any threat to his life. Mr. Badal said there were reports that Amdy also had major stakes in the liquor trade through some front men, and had been allotted special sand digging rights across the State in violation of established norms.
Referring to the methods allegedly used by Amdy Singh's Hamdan Exports to siphon off kick-backs from the oil deal, Mr. Badal said both the style and the substance carried the trademark signatures of Capt. Singh's cronies who were engaged in other dubious deals.
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