New Delhi, July 31 : Former external affairs minister K. Natwar Singh has raked up the issue of Italian origins of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, stating that no Indian would have treated a loyalist the way he was treated by her and that she had a part which was "ruthless." In an interview to Headlines Today over his book "One Life is Not Enough: An Autobiography", Natwar Singh also said former prime minister "was not incompetent" but "so trusting".
Asked by Karan Thapar during the second part of interview telecast Thursday if he was more protective of Rajiv Gandhi than Sonia Gandhi, he said: "Because he did not behave like his wife did."
"He would have never done it, neither Indira Gandhi, nor Jawaharlal Nehru... She did," said he 83-year-old Natwar Singh, who spent long years in Congress after retiring from the Indian Foreign Service. Eternal affairs minister in UPA-I, he had to resign in the fallout of the Volcker report on the oil-for-food scam in Iraq in 2005 and later quit the Congress.
Asked if ruthlessness was because of Sonia Gandhi's Italian background, he said: "It could be because no Indian would treat a man who has been loyal to the family for 45 years, who has been very very close to her, is 30 years older..to treat him like this. No Indian would do. It is just not done in India." "She was not born in India although she adopted India. But there is a part which is ruthless," he said answering another query.
Noting "a politician should not be so trusting" in relation to Rajiv Gandhi, he said that during the first 18 months of his prime ministership, he depended wholly on a team of "ignoramuses with inflated egos".
"One claimed to be a socialist while one was an inept political wheeler dealer. A third was a meddling nuisance. Collectively, they were an irresponsible group that showed little regard for senior Congress ministers and government rules and regulations. They dented Rajiv Gandhi's prestige and his image".
Natwar Singh revealed the name of two - Gopi Arora and Arun Nehru - of these three because they were dead but refused to reveal the name of the third as he was alive.
He said Arun Singh and Arun Nehru wielded much power and controlled access to the prime minister.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi dismissed Natwar Singh's assertions and said he was sensationalising "information shared to him on sensitive issues in keeping with his ministerial rank" for commericial ends.