Oppn seeks clarification on WikiLeaks Cabinet report

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 17 2011, 04:11am hrs
Wikileaks cables suggesting a pro-American shift in the UPA I governments Cabinet reshuffle of 2006 on Tuesday provided fresh ammunition to the Opposition, with the CPM slamming the same as shameful and the BJP seeking a clarification.

The cables accessed by WikiLeaks include a communication sent by then US Ambassador David Mulford on the Cabinet reshuffle of January 28, 2006, saying it signified a determination by the UPA to improve US-India relations and strengthened the cadre of modernising reformers.

It made a particular mention of the replacement of the contentious and outspoken Iran pipeline advocate Mani Shankar Aiyar with the pro-US Murli Deora in the Petroleum portfolio. Referring to the induction of seven MPs who had publicly associated themselves with the US strategic partnership, it said: The net effect... is a Cabinet that is likely to be excellent for US goals in India (and Iran).

CPM MP P Rajeeve raised the issue in the Rajya Sabha today, with party MPs saying what had been revealed by the cables was a shame.

The BJP called it a serious matter and said the government should make a statement. We want the government to clarify... whether a report has been sent by the Ambassador in India, BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu told reporters. If needed, India should lodge a protest with Washington, he added.

Rajeeve referred to the remarks about Aiyar as well as the cables mention of the inclusion of Saifuddin Soz, Anand Sharma, Ashwani Kumar and Kapil Sibal, leaders with strong pro-US credentials.

The US quotes about a Kerala Mafia in PMO also provoked members to shout slogans shame on the government. They demanded a response from the government, but it was not acceded to by deputy chairman K Rahman Khan.

The CPM also raised Mulfords claims that India was not ready to share details of investigations into the 26/11 attack with Pakistan initially, but had agreed after continuous pressure from the US. Asked about the matter, Aiyar said he was not surprised at his removal as petroleum minister at the first opportunity as he only held temporary charge. I thought I will be there for a week or two. It turned out to be 20 months, the Congress leader said. On whether there was any US influence on the Cabinet reshuffle, Aiyar said: How would I know

However, he pointed out, even after the reshuffle, he was part of the Cabinet.