With the Congress on the backfoot, the BJP on Saturday asked it to come clean on its role in allegedly providing safe passage to then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson after the Bhopal gas disaster in 1984 and demanded that it apologise to the nation.
"Why is the Congress silent on the issue? Why is Arjun Singh silent? Why has the country not been informed about what happened? The silence is eloquent," BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said in his inaugural address at the two-day party national executive in Patna.
Terming Bhopal tragedy as a saga of "treachery, backstabbing and betrayal", he said the government should move the Supreme Court and "aggressively" seek review of its judgement.
A retired CBI official B R Lall had stated earlier that the then Congress government at the Centre had tried to protect the Union Carbide management. There are reports alleging that Arjun Singh, then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, helped Anderson flee at the behest of then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
"Anderson was booked under Section 304 IPC (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).... Government helped the main culprit in the accident in which 20,000 people died. Congress must apologise to the nation," BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad quoted Gadkari as saying.
He termed Congress-led UPA as "Union-Carbide Protection Agency". Gadkari raised the Bhopal gas tragedy case to argue against the government's move to pass the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill in Parliament.
"After the recent verdict on Bhopal gas tragedy, the danger of capping the liability through such legislation has become more pronounced," Gadkari said.
The BJP president also maintained that the compensation given and the delay in the process was a "cruel joke".
"The Bhopal gas verdict is a cruel joke by our criminal justice system. BJP demands that the government should again knock the doors of the Supreme Court and aggressively seek review of its judgement... Bhopal tragedy is the saga of treachery, back-stabbing and betrayal," he said.
"No words are powerful enough to condemn all those who mishandled this issue," the BJP chief said.
"The Congress owes an explanation to the nation and victims of Bhopal Gas Tragedy as to who instructed that Anderson be allowed to leave the country," senior BJP leader Syed Shahnawaz Hussain told reporters on the sidelines of the meet.
He demanded that the Congress disclose the individual's name who had ordered the release of Anderson from police custody in Bhopal on December 7, 1984 and facilitated his travel to Delhi by a state plane.