New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh on Thursday defended Arjun Singh over the safe passage given to Warren Anderson –CEO of Union Carbide at the time of Bhopal gas tragedy - saying that the state government was not responsible for it, and it appears to have been done under US pressure.
“The state government hardly had any role to play in this case. The case was being investigated by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation); the compensation was decided by the judiciary. Warren Anderson going away could have been under American pressure,” he told a news channel.
Singh, a Congress general secretary, also pointed out that all decisions regarding the Bhopal gas leak were taken by the central government and that the state government was only following its orders.
“There was a Cabinet Committee in the government of India which took all decisions regarding this case. The only task the government of Madhya Pradesh was to get the decisions implemented,” he said.
Digvijaya was a minister in the Arjun Singh-led state government (1980-84), when the gas leak happened on December 2-3, 1984. He later served as the Chief Minister of the state for two terms.
Digvijaya Singh’s defence of the state government came in response to the claims made by the then distctict collector Moti Singh that he had instructions from the chief secretary of the state to let Anderson leave Bhopal on December 7, 1984, three days after the gas leak.
Importantly, Arjun Singh has not yet responded to the charges against him.
However, Digvijaya Singh’s attempts to absolve the state government, indirectly puts the blame on the central government led by Rajiv Gandhi.
Meanwhile, former minister Vasant Sathe has stated that that there were no discussions in the cabinet at the time Anderson left Bhopal.
He has slammed the then Chief Minister remarking that the fact that a special plane was made available for Anderson’s exit from the state proves that the CM was well aware of
the happenings that led to the successful exit of the accused.
Sathe has also criticised the then officials in the state and the Centre for the same.
He also attacked the UPA by alleging that the government was acting under American pressure.
Meanwhile Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, defended the Centre in the face of such allegations. She told the media that whatever was proved will be placed in front of the GoM whose secretary is the Home Minister himself. She also asserted that the ruling coalition led by the Congress has never acted under pressure from any country.
The Congress party has come out with a quick defence, party leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said the entire onus regarding Warren Anderson was with the state government and the Centre had nothing to do with it.
The Congress is clearly in a fix. On one hand it has to answer a lot of questions on the decisions taken by it 25 years ago and on the other it is trying to bring justice to the thousands who lost their lives in the world’s biggest industrial disaster.