Breaking his silence for the first time on the roiling controversy of former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s release from Bhopal, Arjun Singh said he had “no locus standi” on the matter. He spoke exclusively to Hindustan Times on the phone.
When asked if he wanted to clear the controversy, Singh told HT on the phone, “I have no locus standi on this issue,” virtually lobbing the controversial ball back into then-Central government’s court. The Congress has reacted sharply to then-foreign secretary M K Rasgotra’s comment that the Rajiv Gandhi government had promised “safe passage” to Anderson.
The 79-year-old veteran Congressman refused to elaborate any further.
He however indicated his autobiography, which is in the works, will have details. “Naturally,” is all he said when asked whether the Bhopal tragedy and the Anderson saga would form part of the book.
Even since the Bhopal verdict came on June 7, there has been a deluge of reports in the media on the circumstances under which Anderson, who was placed under house arrest in Bhopal, left the country.
While Congress leaders and former high-ranking officials have offered their versions of the events of the days following the gas leak, the man at the centre of it —Arjun Singh — has refused to speak.
According to then deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, Gordon Streeb, when Anderson was arrested in Bhopal he (Streeb) “immediately contacted the foreign ministry and was assured the government of India will honour its commitment to provide Anderson safe passage in and out of India”.
Then foreign secretary Rasgotra has claimed Anderson was given “safe passage” on the advice of then-home minister P V Narasimha Rao and cabinet secretary C R Krishnaswamy Rao. American secret service CIA’s East Asia brief dated December 8, 1984, declassified in January 2002, indicates the Rajiv Gandhi government had hastened the release of Anderson from house arrest and blames the MP government for the arrest.