New Delhi: Former Union minister Vasant
Sathe Tuesday said there was nothing wrong or illegal in giving
safe passage to then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson and
the Congress should not feel embarrassed about it.
"I think Congress is making a mistake... I don`t know
why Congress is not accepting, there is nothing shameful about
the whole affair," Sathe, who was the Union Minister for
Chemicals and Fertilizers in 1984, said.
He was replying to a question during an interview on a private business news channel on whether Congress is
making a mistake in refusing to accept that it was a decision
taken by the Rajiv Gandhi government.
"I don`t know exactly... Whether Rajiv Gandhi
personally knew about this, before Anderson was given safe
passage. Rajiv Gandhi had just taken over as prime minister
and he was busy in the election campaign, when this whole
thing took place.
"But I am sure authorities who gave this safe
passage to Anderson must have informed Rajiv Gandhi," Sathe
said when asked whether he was prepared to accept that
Anderson was given safe passage and that Rajiv Gandhi, both
approved and concurred with this decision.
"I think you are right," he maintained when asked
whether he was saying it was a decision taken by the Rajiv
Gandhi government to give Anderson the safe passage.
"At that time it was absolutely graceful and necessary
to allow Anderson a safe passage to India and to Bhopal and it
was also right that in Bhopal, he was arrested under the law.
And again he was granted bail by the court, just as the bail
was given to the other main accused. So, therefore there was
nothing wrong or illegal in the whole affair," Sathe said.
Asked whether arresting Anderson was a breach of
promise and that the arrest shouldn`t have happened once he
had been granted a safe passage, the senior Congress leader
said, "Once Anderson came here, under the Indian law he was
subject to being arrested and also being granted bail because
the offence under which he was arrested was bailable."
He said that his having been given the safe passage
to come to India did not mean "that he would not be bound by
the Indian law. And under the Indian law being head of the
company, Union Carbide, he was liable to be arrested. And
there was nothing wrong".
Asked whether his immediate release after the arrest
was justified, Sathe said, "It was justified. There was
absolutely nothing wrong or dishonourable about the affair.
And I do not think Congress needs to feel anyway embarrassed
by the whole affair."