Chennai: A top aide of Rajiv Gandhi tonight
spoke in contradictory voices about the Bhopal gas tragedy,
first ruling out the late Prime Minister`s involvement in the
sudden release of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson
and later hinting that he may have had a role.
P C Alexander, Former Principal Secretary to Rajiv
Gandhi, said Anderson`s name never came up in an early
morning meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs
(CCPA) convened by Gandhi to discuss the Bhopal gas tragedy.
Alexander, a former Tamil Nadu Governor, also said
senior Congress leader Arjun Singh, then Chief Minister of
Madhya Pradesh, was present in the CCPA, though a Chief
Minister was not part of the Committee.
"I cannot say whether the decision (of allowing Anderson
to leave India) was taken by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
or Singh... but Anderson`s name never came up... there was not
a single occasion when his name came up in the CCPA" which was
held at 3 am to discuss the next course of action in the gas
tragedy, he said.
Asked whether Arjun Singh had let Anderson off without
getting any clearance from the Centre, Alexander, who resides
here, said "I cannot say that."
But later, Alexander said the decision on (letting off)
Anderson could have been taken by the Prime Minister in
consultation with the Chief Minister.
"Or if you want to put it the other way, you can put it
the other way. If the Prime Minister was there, naturally he
could have taken the decision or he could have agreed with the
decision," he said.
The Prime Minister may have directed Arjun Singh to come
to Delhi or he may have been in touch with him as otherwise
Arjun Singh would not have known that there was CCPA meeting.
Alexander said chemical expert Varadarajan had presented
his views at the CCPA meeting stating that there was no need
to evacuate people as there was no imminent danger of a second
After the disaster, an expert committee was set up under
the chairmanship of Varadarajan to review the situation.
Further Gandhi was too busy with his election schedule
then to take a call on allowing Anderson to fly out of India,
Alexander also said he did not know why an image has been
created as if Rajiv Gandhi was involved in allowing Anderson
leave the country after the world`s worst industrial disaster
that left over 15,000 dead.