It has now become quite clear that the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was well briefed on the developments that led to Warren Anderson, Union Carbide head at the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, being allowed safe passage to the United States, the BJP said on Friday.
Referring to the interview given to a news channel by the then Foreign Secretary, M.K. Rasgotra, party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said it was shameful that the Congress government had an understanding with Mr. Anderson that he could go back home safely.
“It has also become clear Mr. Anderson and officials of the U.S. embassy here were in touch with some top political leaders of the day.” It was time the Congress faced the facts and realised its mistake, Ms. Sitharaman said.
On the allegation that the BJP had accepted a donation from Dow Chemicals, which bought up Union Carbide after the disaster, she admitted that the BJP indeed received Rs. 1 lakh from the company in February 2007 and “accepted it with thanks.” However, it later found that as a political party “it was not permitted to accept a donation” from an overseas company and, therefore, returned the money to Dow Chemicals in November 2008. Both the transactions took place by cheque, she said.
Ms. Sitharaman did not reply when it was pointed out that the National Democratic Alliance government arrived at understandings with foreign governments in the case of three fugitives from the law – Khalistani terrorist Jagjit Singh Chauhan, 1993 Mumbai serial blasts accused Abu Salem and “hawala” dealer Amir Bhai. The Vajpayee-led government could get Abu Salem extradited after a written undertaking that he would not be given the death sentence. Apparently, after their return “home,” Jagjit Singh lived a free man as did Amir Bhai.
Ms. Sitharaman also did not reply to a question whether the NDA government gave these three men immunity from law despite their being terrorists or had helped terrorists (Amir Bhai was thought to have done ‘hawala' transactions for Kashmiri terrorists as for some top politicians here).