New Delhi: With Rajiv Gandhi under attack
from Opposition in Bhopal gas leak case, government today put
the onus of any wrong-doing on three Prime Ministers between
1989 and 1996 who included Congress leader P V Narasimha Rao.
Home Minister P Chidambaram, while replying to a debate in
the Rajya Sabha on Bhopal gas tragedy, said the elected
political class had let down victims of the 1984 disaster and
things could have been dealt with in a more satisfactory
"The compensation cases were decided between 1989 and
1991. There were three Prime Ministers in that period...The
criminal cases were decided between 1989 and 1996. There were
three Prime Ministers during that period," he said.
"Everyone who has been a Prime Minister and headed a
government is in one way or the other responsible and
accountable," he said.
Between 1989 and 1996, the Prime Ministers were V P
Singh, Chandrashekhar and P V Narasimha Rao.
Chidambaram`s contention comes in response to Opposition
attack on Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, over the then
Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson being allowed to leave the
country after his arrest in the gas tragedy case.
Chidambaram`s remarks holding Rao along with V P Singh
and Chandrashekhar responsible came a day after then Madhya
Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress leader Arjun Singh pointed
fingers at Rao over Anderson being allowed to leave the
"The question of criminal liability, the question of
compensation, the question of providing medical and health
care, everything was abdicated to in favour of judiciary by
the executive and Parliament," Chidambaram said.
Referring to the June 7 judgement of the trial court in
Bhopal sentencing Keshub Mahindra, the then non-executive
Chairman of Union Carbide and others to jail terms of two
years each, Chidambaram said, "that was a wake up call. It
jolted everybody from his or her slumber".
He said the judgement by the court was wrong. "But
assuming that it was right, it did not apply to Warren
Anderson," he said.
After the judgement, the government set up a group of
ministers to look into the case afresh. "The fact that so many
years had passed was certainly a constraint," he said.
Contending that there were no records about how Anderson
was allowed to leave the country, he said "truth is stranger
than fiction...I have tried my best to put the right question
and seek the records. But these records are simply not there".