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US trying to armtwist India to let Dow go scotfree: Oppn MPs

delhi Updated: Aug 19, 2010 17:37 IST

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BJP and Left parties on Thursday alleged that the US was trying to armtwist India to let Dow Chemicals go scotfree with regard to its liability in the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Raising the issue during Zero Hour, D Raja (CPI) quoted media reports saying that there was an exchange of emails between Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and US deputy national security advisor Michael Froman.

Responding to Ahluwalia's request for US support in the World Bank for India's borrowing, Froman had reportedly said "We are hearing a noise about Dow Chemicals issue...I think we want to avoid developments, which put a chilling effect on the investment relationship."

Raja, joined by CPI-M and BJP members, said it was very clear that the US was trying to influence the decision making of our country and the government should not succumb to this pressure.

He said the email exchange between Ahluwalia and Froman suggests that US wants India to take back Rs 1500 crore-damage claim against Dow Chemicals.

He said Home Minister P Chidambaram had given an assurance earlier this month that there was no pressure from outside the country on the Bhopal gas issue.

"Government of India should come clean on the issue," he said.

The worldwide assets of Union Carbide were taken over by Dow Chemicals. It was the gas leak at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal in 1984, which claimed thousands of lives.

In a separate Zero Hour mention, Ashwini Kumar (Congress) expressed concern over security threat from China.

He said India's defence preparedness against China was one:five. He said while the budget for China's defence is $150 billion, it was only $32 billion for India. While China has eight nuclear submarines, India has only one, he said.

"It is high time that rising India stops being apologetic about its need to increase its defence expenses," he said.

Kumar said while India has to build good relationship with China, it did not mean that "we remain oblivious to the urgency of our defence preparedness...we must revisit our defence preparedness."