Bhopal: By drawing parallels between Ottavio Quattrocchi and Warren Anderson and between the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the Bhopal gas tragedy, the BJP on Friday launched a frontal attack on the Congress.
Exploiting the aftermath of the lower court's verdict in the Bhopal gas tragedy case, the party held a protest in the state capital and chalked out a programme to raise the issue from municipal wards in the state to both Houses of Parliament, reports The Indian Express.
Leading the charge was the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj who blamed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for giving a ‘send-off' to Warren Anderson saying no further proof was needed to establish this. She said Quattrocchi was also given a send-off in similar fashion.
Swaraj said the anti-Sikh riots were a result of revenge-driven massacre in the wake of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in collusion with the government while the Bhopal gas leak was a result of criminal negligence for economic benefits.
Swaraj announced that she will move a motion in the Lok Sabha on the opening day on July 19 seeking revocation of the 1989 settlement which was based on the death toll of 3,000, and demand a fresh settlement to factor in subsequent deaths.
The motion will demand a respectable amount of compensation for each victim and a comprehensive system of treatment. Also, it will demand that absconding accused in the gas tragedy case be brought to stand trial.
The party will demand voting on the issue to expose where the Congress stands on the issue. If the motion sails through, it will benefit the survivors and if it fails, the BJP will continue to take to the streets on the issue, the party said. The motion will also be moved in the Rajya Sabha.
State BJP president Prabhat Jha said dharnas would be organised in each of the nagar panchayat wards on June 25 to time the protest with the anniversary of Emergency. In the towns, cadres will take out torch rallies on the same evening. The party will also submit a memorandum to the President on the issue.
In contrast to Swaraj's speech, leaders from Madhya Pradesh were equally severe on Arjun Singh and Sonia Gandhi and their continued silence on the issue of Anderson's escape.
Some speakers alleged that the Congress had always been soft on foreigners.
However, while BJP was holding its dharna at Polytechnic Square, a survivors' organisation was holding a protest nearby alleging that the BJP had no moral right to speak on their behalf because it did not do what was expected of it all these years.
In New Delhi, in the backdrop of former Foreign Secretary M K Rasgotra's revelations that Anderson was given a safe passage by the then Central government, BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress should now apologise to the nation as it could not any more beat around the bush on the issue.
She said it had become clear that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had concurred with the decision. Although he was out of Delhi, he was “briefed fully” about the decision much before Anderson left the country, she said. It has become clear that the US embassy in Delhi and Anderson dealt with high-level officials and leaders of the Congress, she claimed.
With Congress raising the issue of an MoU signed between the Narendra Modi government and Dow Chemicals to corner BJP, Sitharaman said Dow had a presence in several states including Uttar Pradesh and Congress-ruled Maharashtra. She said Gujarat was the only state which signed the MoU as per the Montreal Protocol, which lays down guidelines for controlling ozone layer depletion and maintaining other environmental norms.