Monday, November 29, 1999

Allegations of deal with Anderson outrageous: Congress

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Washington, June 18 (IANS) India's ruling Congress party has denied as 'outrageous' allegations that there was a deal to give a safe passage to Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson after the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster.'Certainly there is no place for such outrageous allegations because there is absolutely no basis except a certain amount of political sensationalism and gimmickry by certain vested interests,' Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the media here Thursday.Asked how Anderson could leave India without then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi knowing about it, he retorted: 'The prime minister of India does not deal with what every police constable or police commissioner does. There is absolutely no connectivity. The allegation is purely political.'I would ask you a simple question: Why this gentleman is saying so for the first time after 25 years? Could he not find any other time to make this allegation?' Singhvi said, referring to then US deputy chief of mission Gordon Streeb's statement that Anderson flew to India only only after being assured of safe return.'And why are those political parties picking up these allegations now? If there was the slightest bit of evidence, these allegations would have been made earlier,' he said.'There is absolutely no evidence of any kind whatsoever, direct or indirect, to support this completely outrageous and ridiculous allegation,' Singhvi repeated when asked about then foreign secretary M.K. Rasgotra's statement that Rajiv Gandhi did not object on being told about the decision of the home ministry, the headed by P.V. Narasimha Rao, to promise Anderson that he could return to the US safely.Asked if India could still do something to bring Anderson to justice, he said: 'All is not lost, because there are procedures by which a review petition can be filed before the Supreme Court to consider reviewing a judgement passed by it years ago.'The process of pursuing criminal proceedings in which Anderson was declared a proclaimed offender could also be restarted, he said. But to a large extent it would depend on the US as extradition was a legal process.Singhvi, who is leading an all-party parliamentary delegation attending the annual India-Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme in the US, also did not see any reason for a fallout from the Bhopal case on the Nuclear Liability Bill pending in the parliament.'I do not see any reason to connect the two. Because the proposed Civil Nuclear Liability Bill is specifically restricted and operative in respect to suppliers and operators of nuclear plants.''If and when it is passed in whatever form, it would have nothing to do with non-nuclear plant sites,' he said. 'It is a very specific bill, but obviously that bill will get all the inputs of all the stakeholders and ultimately a decision based on all the stakeholders would be taken,' Singhvi said.(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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