What, you’re still here?

Old politicians don’t fade away. Not even to preserve what’s left of their dignity. Not even when they have such a distinguished past, followed by such an embarrassing departure, as our former foreign minister Natwar Singh.

Natwar Singh says that he was removed under US pressure. He also says that his name was inserted in the Volcker report to “save the skin of Kofi Annan”. Which is odd, since the current US administration detests Annan.

He also criticises the government for their silence on Saddam Hussein’s hanging (funny, I wasn’t particularly struck by the silence back then — but I suppose few people can compete in decibels with Natwar). But his reported problem isn’t the process of the trial, sentencing or execution — it is that “Over 17 crore Muslims live in this country”. Apparently that means we must loudly protest the punishment of a mass-murderer who happened to be Muslim.

His foot has been a resident of his mouth for a while. Soon after he was thrown out, he regretted the break-up of the Soviet Union. This was when the government was actively exploring oil and gas deals with various ex-Soviet central Asian republics. If Manmohan Singh did have some vague notion of restoring the foreign portfolio to Natwar after the storm blew over, I’m sure he found such comments quite encouraging.

Indeed, on June 1, 2004 — less than a month after the Congress, with Natwar, took office — the Guardian catalogued Natwar’s various faux pas in an article titled “The ministry for silly talk”.

That title was a play on a Monty Python sketch (watch it here). But John Cleese, for all his talent, wasn’t nearly as silly as this man.

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