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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cong out in defence of Rajiv

New Delhi/June 12

The Congress on Saturday swung into action to clear the name of its late leader in the wake of ''revelations'' from the recently declassified US Central Intelligence Agency records that the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had ensured Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s escape from India.

Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh Satyavrata Chaturvedi claimed during the day that Arjun Singh, the then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, had admitted in 1984 itself that the decision to allow Anderson to escape from the country was taken at the state level.

He referred to three alleged statements Arjun had made in this regard. “Arjun Singh should break his silence and come forward to tell whether he stands by the three statements he had made after Anderson left the country, which clearly bring out the fact that the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had no role in it”.

Chaturvedi said: “On December 8, 1984, Arjun Singh had said that Anderson was allowed to leave the country because the police felt his presence was not required. Then, on December 9, Singh said there was no pressure on him from anybody (to allow Anderson to fly out of the country), while on December 14, he said he had briefed the Rajiv Gandhi on the circumstances that led to Anderson’s arrest and then leaving the country.”

The three statements, Chaturvedi claimed, “clearly show that Rajiv had no role in this decision, which was taken at the level of local administration and state government.” However, Arjun, who had fallen out with the party leadership on the eve of the 2009 parliamentary elections, has so far maintained silence on who in the Indian establishment had arranged the Union Carbide chief’s escape to the US.

In Bangalore, Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily, too, rejected any talk of the late leader’s involvement. In the process, he, however, contradicted Chaturvedi. Adopting an offensive political strategy, Moily blamed Rajiv’s principal secretary P C Alexander for the escape of the Union Carbide chief.

“He (Alexander) was the principal secretary to the prime minister then. I think he is responsible for whatever happened at that time,” the law minister alleged. Moily was countering Alexander’s remarks that suggested that Rajiv had a role. He asserted that the former principal secretary to Rajiv was blaming the late former prime minister because he was now in the BJP camp. “He is a new convert to the BJP and Shiv Sena. He is anti-Congress after the Congress did not support him for the President’s post, hence his statement is motivated,” he asserted.

But former chief justice of India A M Ahmadi broke his silence on Moily’s recent assertion that he was responsible for diluting the cases against the accused in the gas tragedy. He said “the government is always responsible. When something of this nature happens to the people of the country, does the government say it has no responsibility? I am unable to understand that.”

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