Swaraj-Qureshi meet called off because PMO was not taken into confidence: Yashwant Sinha

Swaraj-Qureshi meet called off because PMO was not taken into confidence: Yashwant Sinha
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New Delhi, Oct 22: Former Union finance minister Yashwant Sinha Monday claimed a meeting between external affairs ministers of India and Pakistan had been cancelled because Sushma Swaraj “did not take” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) into confidence.
The government had last month called off the meeting in New York, within 24 hours after agreeing to it, by citing the brutal killings of three policemen in Jammu and Kashmir and Islamabad releasing postage stamps “glorifying” Kashmiri militant Burhan Wani.
Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of centralising the decision making, Sinha cited a newspaper report to claim that the engagement was cancelled because “External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj did not take the PMO into confidence before the meeting (scheduled between herself and her Pakistan counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi)”.
“This proves that Swaraj’s voice is not heard. This is the reason she is sometimes referred to as a Twitter minister,” he told reporters here.
Sinha also alleged that senior ministers, who are part of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), are being kept in the dark about important decisions.
“The Home Minister didn’t know when the BJP withdrew its support to the PDP (Peoples Democratic Front)-led coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir and the Governor’s rule was imposed.
“Similarly, the Finance Minister was unaware about demonetisation (which was announced by the prime minister in November 2016). I think the minister came to know about the note ban only at a Cabinet meeting. The (then) defence minister did not know when the Rafale deal was going to take place or whether it had already happened,” Sinha claimed.
The former BJP leader also said that he singled out the four ministers because they are part of the important CCS.
“Why I am mentioning these four ministers is because they are the members of all important mantri parishad committee that is the Cabinet committee on Security. If (the voice of) the ministers of Home, Defence, Foreign Affairs and Finance portfolios is not heard then who is left in that committee,” asked Sinha.
He said only the prime minister has a say now in the decision making.
“All the important decisions are being taken by the PMO and others merely follow the orders. The working culture of Cabinet, as defined by the Constitution, is finished now,” he alleged.