Monday, November 29, 1999


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New Delhi, June 16 (PTI) With questions continuing to be raised over the exit of former Union Carbid Chief Warren Anderson in the wake of Bhopal gas leak tragedy, Congress today blamed it on "systemic" failure and rejected any involvement of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. In a damage-control mode on the issue, the Congress party came out with a new defence on a day when television channels played out the bytes of the then Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Arjun Singh in the aftermath of the gas leak tragedy in December, 1984that Anderson was given bail since he agreed to be present in court when charges are made. Channels also showed the bytes of Anderson in Delhi 26 years ago before leaving for the US that "house arrest or no arrest or bail or no bail, I am free to go home." Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee also ruled out any plans to meet officials of Dow Chemicals, which had bought the Union Carbide, during his visit to the US next week. At the daily briefing in the AICC, Congress spokesman Manish Tewari was asked about these statements and whether there was no no role for the Central and state governments in Anderson''s easy flight back home. "At the end of it there was a systemic failure and there is a need to address it.If we go into the game of finger-pointing, there can be no end. I can ask the BJP about Rs one lakh it received as donation from Dow as was reflected in the affidavit it filed before the Election Commission. "There was never ever any intention of Central government to allow any culprit to go scot-free," he said. The spokesman said a Group of Ministers has been constituted and it would be looking into all aspects of the issue. Tewari vehemently denied that then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had any knowledge about Anderson being allowed to leave, saying that imputing such motives was "despicable" as Gandhi had lost his mother a month ago and lost his life a few years down the line. "We are all anguished by the verdict," he said. (More) PTI AMI AMR SPG MPL PB KM.

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