The Congress on Thursday chose to redirect blame over Warren Anderson’s escape from law to then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh though party general secretary Digvijaya Singh alluded to “US pressure” as a possible reason for the ex-Union Carbide chief’s release.
Already under attack from the opposition, the Congress found itself caught on the back-foot with its senior leaders speaking in different voices.
The reported communication from Digvijaya Singh raised eyebrows within and outside the party, which was in power in both Madhya Pradesh and the Centre in 1984. In his statement from the US, he reportedly said: “I don’t know as I was not in Bhopal at the time of gas leak. It could be under US pressure but I am not aware of the facts.” But Congress Working Committee member Satyavrat Chaturvedi did not agree with him. He openly blamed the Arjun Singh government for Anderson’s escape.
“The incident took place in Bhopal. The state government arrested Anderson and gave him bail the same day.
He was sent to Delhi by a state government plane and from there he went to America. Now, where do we see the role of the central government? In this we only see the role of the state government,” said Chaturvedi, a known Arjun Singh baiter.
Another Congress veteran Vasant Sathe had a different take on the matter. According to him, “collusion” between the Madhya Pradesh government and “some people” in the Centre allowed Anderson to escape justice.
But amid intensified blame game within the party, Dwivedi put up a brave face. “There may be different personal views but so far as the Congress is concerned, the party has always maintained that all questions that are raised in any such situation, especially when there is a human tragedy of such magnitude, must be answered and the responsibility should be fixed. The same norm applies to this case,” he said.
Asked who will answer the questions, Dwivedi said: “Those against whom the questions are being raised will have to provide the answers.”
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister finally broke his silence on Thursday. Speaking to a newspaper, Chauthi Duniya, Arjun Singh said he was disturbed by reports on Anderson’s release.
“These reports are untrue. The first priority then was to save lives,” he reportedly said.