A day after the former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh sought to point fingers at P.V. Narasimha for the exit of the former chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation, Warren Anderson, from India, an accused in the Bhopal gas disaster case, Home Minister P. Chidambaram also gave a clean chit to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Rajya Sabha.
He told BJP members that “your intention” in raising this issue was “weird” and to point fingers at Gandhi.
Relying on Mr. Arjun Singh's contention in the House, he said: “Safe passage [to Anderson] was indeed given, according to (M.K.) Rasgotra [then Foreign Secretary] and he was allowed to leave the country, according to Arjun Singhji. I am in no position to confirm or deny it.”
He was responding to questions by Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and members of the Left parties as to who was responsible for allowing Mr. Anderson to leave the country.
“Neither the prime minister nor the chief minister knew about Mr. Anderson's exit,” Mr. Jaitley had said in his speech.
CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury expressed surprise how records on these developments were not in government archives.
The Home Minister said the principal player, Arjun Singh, had said that Rajiv Gandhi had nothing to do with Mr. Anderson's exit and it had to be believed.
Mr. Chidambaram said it was possible that the safe passage was “negotiated” by the U.S. Embassy officials. “This can be described as pressure or duty on their part,” he said.
“Beyond that I have not found evidence of any U.S. pressure in what has been done in the last 25 years. Why shift blame to the U.S. for our commissions and omissions?”
Mr. Chidambaram referred to Mr. Singh's statement that Mr. Anderson was allowed to leave the country after “persistent calls” from the officials of the Home Ministry in Delhi, which was then headed by Narasimha Rao, to the MP Chief Secretary then, to grant him bail.
“To the best of my enquiry, no records have been found as to which Home Ministry official made the calls to Brahm Swarup (then Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary),” he said.