Tuesday, March 15, 2011

WikiLeaks: Aiyar says he was not surprised by his removal

New Delhi, March 15, 2011

Mani Shankar Aiyar, an Iran gas pipeline advocate whose removal as Petroleum Minister in 2006 had been linked to alleged U.S. pressure in leaked diplomatic cables, on Tuesday said he was not surprised when he was relieved "at the first opportunity" of the "temporary charge".

"I was told explicitly that it was a temporary charge. I thought I will be there (Petroleum Ministry) for a week or two. It turned out to be 20 months. So it is not surprising that at the first opportunity when the reshuffle took place I was relieved of my temporary charge," the Congress leader said when asked about the secret U.S. diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

Asked whether there was any U.S. influence on Cabinet reshuffle, Mr. Aiyar said, "How would I know. I was given temporary charge of Oil Ministry."

However, Mr. Aiyar said that even after reshuffle he was part of the Cabinet.

"I was part of the government at that time. Even after the reshuffle I was not thrown out of the government, I remained in the government," Mr. Aiyar told reporters outside Parliament.

Petroleum Ministry was taken from Mr. Aiyar and given to Congress MP Murli Deora during the UPA cabinet reshuffle in 2006.

CPI-M members in the Rajya Sabha raised the issue about the diplomatic cables in which then U.S. Ambassador to India David C. Mulford reportedly described change in the Petroleum portfolio as a "determination to ensure that U.S.-India relations continue to move ahead rapidly".

News From: http://www.7StarNews.com

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