In their efforts to protect the image of the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and his government, Congress leaders persisted in their attack on Arjun Singh, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh at the time of the Bhopal gas leak in December 1984.

On Saturday, Congress Working Committee member Satyavrat Chaturvedi renewed his challenge to Mr. Singh to “break his silence” and explain whether he stood by three statements he had made in December 1984, which conclusively proved that Mr. Gandhi had no role in the departure of the then United Carbide chairman, Warren Anderson, from the country.

Meanwhile, in Bangalore, Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily criticised P.C. Alexander, who was Principal Secretary to Rajiv Gandhi when he was Prime Minister, for hinting that the latter may have been behind Mr. Anderson's smooth exit from the country. In a no-holds-barred attack on Mr. Alexander, Mr. Moily told journalists: “I think he [P.C. Alexander] had joined the BJP, and with the Shiv Sena's support, became a Rajya Sabha member. He is a new convert to the BJP-Shiv Sena and anti-Congress camp because he was not considered for Presidentship. It is a motivated statement.”

Earlier Mr. Chaturvedi, referring to news reports that appeared in 1984, quoted Mr. Singh as having said on December 8, 1984 that Mr. Anderson was allowed to leave the country because the police felt his presence was not required.

The Congress leader then pulled out another news report, which cited Mr. Singh saying on December 9, 1984 that there was no pressure on him to allow the former Union Carbide chairman to fly out of the country.

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