Two days after she was abruptly relieved of her post, former foreign secretary Sujatha Singh said Friday that her reputation has been tarnished by adverse stories coming out about her on social media and that “it was not necessary to get low and dirty”.
Singh, who sought early retirement after the Narendra Modi government appointed S. Jaishankar to replace her Wednesday night, told NDTV news channel in an interview that she believed in team work and in strengthening the institutional framework of the external affairs ministry.
She said the “commentary” that she has seen about herself over the past two days “has pained me deeply. I believe that it was not necessary to get low and dirty”.
“I wanted to give in my papers and leave, without any ceremony and without any fuss, but unfortunately that has not been the case, and I believe that my reputation has been tarnished. I believe the social media has gone into overdrive and I believe that there are stories that are being planted that tarnish whatever I have been as an officer over these years in service,” she said.
She said that her exit was “probably a decision that had been taken, and that nothing I could have done would have made a difference”.
Taking credit for the successful foreign policy overdrive of the Modi government, she said: “The first eight months of the new government’s foreign policy engagements have been intensely successful. They have been the most charged and successful engagement of any new government that you can think of. And they went beautifully.
On the just-concluded visit of US President Barack Obama, Singh said she had worked very closely with the PMO.
She said despite the intensive work her ministry put to make the foreign visits and diplomatic engagements successful, there was “negative feedback from time to time on what the MEA was doing” but she was told not to take it personally as it happens with other ministries too.
Singh said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj conveyed to her 2 p.m. Wednesday that Modi wanted Jaishankar in her place.
Singh said she wrote her letter, saying “that as instructed by the PM, I hereby request for early retirement”. Then she first informed her husband and her parents because she did not want them to hear from the media, went back to her office and cleared her desk of all pending files, before submitting her letter to the minister at between 7 and 8 p.m.