The BJP on Thursday accused the then Rajiv Gandhi-led central government of deliberately granting safe passage to former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson.
The party said American newspaper reports of December 7, 1984, when Anderson was arrested, quoted Union Carbide as saying that the arrest violated the Indian government’s promise of safe passage.
It criticised the Congress for allegedly stating that criticism of Rajiv Gandhi was “unpatriotic”, claiming this reflected Congress’ Emergency-type mindset.
BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted Pittsburgh Press: “A company (Carbide) statement issued at headquarters in Danbury said the arrest violated an Indian government promise to provide Anderson with safe passage.”
He added: “The Congress is conspicuously silent on the public claim of Gordon Streeb, the deputy chief of mission at the American embassy, that Anderson was freed as part of an agreement and allowed to go back.”
The party said that the government passed the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (Processing of Claims) Act 1985, under section 3 of which the Centre claimed exclusive rights to represent every victim. The Attorney General of India, it added, suggested a maximum amount of $ 500 million compensation, after which the Supreme Court fixed the claim settlement at $ 470 million.
“The above judgment was agreed to by the Congress on the premise that the total number of deaths was 3,000,” said Prasad. “This was patently wrong and cruelly absurd because the exact number was five times more.”
Prasad also faulted the then P.V. Narasimha Rao government for filing no review plea when the SC decided the case be tried under a lesser offence punishable for two years. “Hardly three years back, the UPA-I had seriously opposed before the SC the claim of some NGOs to enhance compensation.”
The BJP also demanded that the Bhopal gas leak case be reopened.