Former Union Minister Arun Nehru, a close aide of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, claimed on Sunday that Arjun Singh as Madhya Pradesh chief minister had taken the decision to release then Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson after the Bhopal tragedy and that Gandhi had no role in it.
"It is obvious that chief minister Arjun Singh took the decision (to release Anderson) and informed the Centre according to the press conference which the CM had addressed on December 7, 1984. He was the person in-charge and he took the decision," Nehru told PTI.
He said the only authentic version of the episode could be got from the press interviews of Arjun Singh in 1984 and "to attribute any motive to prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is wrong as the decision was taken by the CM".
He said a fresh controversy is being created unnecessarily when the facts were known and Singh had spoken on the issue in 1984 itself.
Nehru was a general secretary of the Congress in 1984 and was campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections when the Bhopal gas tragedy took place. He fell out with Gandhi later and has no association with the Congress or any other party now.
Claiming that Arjun Singh had taken the decision keeping in view the circumstances that existed then, he said, "Trying to judge events in 2010 by the ground realities existing in 1984 can never be right.
"He took the decision based on the ground situation then and that decision was being questioned now after 25 years," he said.
The former minister said that providing relief and rehabilitation must have been the top priority of a chief minister when a tragedy of such a magnitude took place.
"The more appropriate question should be to ask why the courts took nearly 25 years and why the charges were watered down. We are waking up after 25 years... Are we supposed to wake up after 25 years if a tragedy strikes now?" he asked.
On the issue whether the matter cropped up in any meeting of the Union Cabinet then, Nehru said it was election time and there was no time for Cabinet meetings as the leaders were busy electioneering.
He also blamed the Congress for being "defensive" on the issue, saying that this should not have been the case as the facts of the matter are known and Arjun Singh himself spoke on the issue way back in 1984. PTI