Rajiv Gandhi said in the press conference…
Singh said Rajiv Gandhi had said in a press briefing while answering a question from a Pakistani diplomat, “You will talk to a new foreign secretary soon” and Venkateswaran was sitting in the audience. Singh said that he was the Minister of State at that time and took a flight and went straight to Rajiv Gandhi and asked him questions on the issue.
Singh said, ‘Rajiv Gandhi said, ‘I didn’t know he (Venkateshwaran) was sitting there’, and I said ‘You can’t do it even if he wasn’t there.’ According to Singh, ‘Yogesh Tiwari gathered his friends to protest what the then Prime Minister did. When I got to know, I went to him. I told him, do you think this is a foreign service trade union? You will not do this.’
Rajeev asked what should I do
Singh, who was a senior Foreign Service officer before joining politics, said, “I went to Rajiv Gandhi and said I have stopped it, but there is resentment in the ministry.” He asked ‘what should I do’ and I said don’t do anything.’
Singh also told how the then retired Home Secretary LP Singh had published an article on the episode and how he had prevented him from publishing another article criticizing Rajiv Gandhi for the move.
However, Natwar Singh said that Venkateswaran was careless about many things on various occasions in the presence of Rajiv Gandhi. He said, ‘Once he announced during the SAARC summit in 1986 that Rajiv Gandhi would visit Pakistan and the then Prime Minister said there was no such thing. When Venkateswaran was asked about this, he said, ‘I thought he would go, so I said so.’
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor also referred to an incident recorded in the book. He said Tiwari had called Foreign Service officials in the wake of the Venkateswaran episode and Natwar Singh was also invited to attend, who also attended.