NATIONAL POLITICS: 9 months after expulsion, Jaswant may return to BJP – a return to ‘responsible and conscientious opposition’ in India ?!!
FROM THE TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI, Jun 15, 2010, 07.20pm IST (AGENCIES): Nine months after former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over his book praising Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the MP from Darjeeling is likely to return to the fold, party sources said on Tuesday.
“Jaswant Singh is likely to return to the party fold and the decision is to be made by the BJP parliamentary board. The decision is expected this week itself,” a BJP source told IANS.
However, there was no official word from the party.
“If there is anything, the party president will announce it,” BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar told reporters here.
Jaswant Singh was expelled at the BJP Chintan Bhaitak held in Shimla in August last year a day after his book, “Jinnah- India, Partition, Independence”, was released.
The book described the Pakistan founder as secular and sought to blame Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel for the partition of the country.
Jaswant, 72, had expressed his resentment at the manner in which the decision was taken and asked why he was not even asked to clarify his position.
He had said that the decision was conveyed to him on the phone by then party president Rajnath Singh.
His book was promptly banned by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his state.
The acrimony between Jaswant and BJP only grew further when he refused to step down as Chairperson of Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC). Later, in December he voluntarily resigned from the post, three months before his term was to end.
However, there was a thaw in relations as time passed. Sources said Advani was unhappy about Jaswant’s removal from the party and the manner in which it was done. On his part, Jaswant recently said BJP was in his blood.
Gadkari, who had announced that all those who had to leave the party could come back provided they expressed regret for their actions, is also open to the idea of Jaswant’s return.
Jaswant, a founder member of the 30-year-old party, had served the BJP-led NDA government as External Affairs Minister and Finance Minister.
As External Affairs Minister he had accompanied the three terrorists to Kandahar for the release of hijacked passengers of IC-814 in December, 1999.
BJP all set to re-induct Jaswant Singh – BJP finally understanding and making amends towards a more viable future ?!!
FROM India Today Bureau
New Delhi, June 15, 2010: The BJP is all set to reinduct expelled leader Jaswant Singh back into the party.
Sources said this follows the decision of the BJP top brass to get Jaswant, the MP from Darjeeling, back into the party fold. An announcement of Jaswant’s re-entry into the BJP would be made shortly.
Jaswant was expelled from the BJP last year over the contents of his book Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence. The book was seen by the party as being praiseworthy of Pakistan’s founder Mohd Ali Jinnah and critical of Sardar Patel.
Singh’s view in the book that Jinnah was not responsible for the Partition of India had invited strong criticism from the Sangh Parivar. Embarrassed BJP leaders had even skipped the book launch on August 17 in Delhi.
The Narendra Modi government in Gujarat had banned the book soon after its launch.
BJP leader L.K. Advani had described Jaswant’s expulsion as a “painful but necessary” decision.
“It is mentally painful to expel somebody who has been with you for the past 30 years, but what he wrote (in the book) was against the basic ideology of the party,” Advani had said at the BJP’s three-day Chintan Baithak held last year.
But Jaswant had defended his work, saying: “I can’t fathom I have been expelled for writing a book. No one has even read the entire book. I regret the party’s decision; I am deeply saddened.”
“I don’t regret writing the book. I have committed no sin. Policing of thoughts is a dangerous thing,” he said.
WHILE THE HINDU REPORTS
Jaswant Singh’s homecoming certain – Indian national anxiety ?!!
FROM THE HINDU
Barring the formality of an announcement, the return of senior leader Jaswant Singh to the Bharatiya Janata Party is certain.
Ahead of the party’s Patna conclave BJP president Nitin Gadkari had met Mr. Singh.
However, to use Mr. Singh’s words, “some distance” remained to be covered. Almost a week later, the deal seems to be done. It is expected that when Mr. Gadkari returns to the capital next week — he has gone to Mumbai — a formal announcement will be made.
Asked about Mr. Singh’s homecoming, senior general secretary Ananth Kumar said on Tuesday: “You will get to know when the announcement is made.”
Mr. Singh, who represents Darjeeling in the 15th Lok Sabha, was summarily expelled after some senior party leaders objected to his views on Pakistan founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah in a biography authored by him. His expulsion came at the BJP’s ‘chintan baithak’ in Shimla soon after the party’s defeat in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.
The demand for his ouster was led by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who alleged that there were derogatory references to India’s first Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in his book and it would be difficult for him to explain this away to the people of Gujarat. With several party leaders asking for his expulsion and senior leader L.K. Advani acquiescing by his silence, then party president Rajnath Singh signed off the order expelling Mr. Singh without giving him even a show-cause notice.
Ten months later, there are many leaders in the party who feel gross injustice was done to him. Mr. Gadkari had also announced his intention of trying to “bring home” some leaders who had parted company but had continued to believe in the party’s ideology.
Uma Bharti’s return to the party has been held up as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and the State unit are opposed to her coming back, fearing she would interfere in the State’s political affairs.
MEANWHILE ON THE CONTROVERSIAL BHOPAL GAS TRAGEDY ISSUE AND THE BLAME GAME THEREAFTER
Anderson promised safe passage before going to India, says former US diplomat – India’s morality to go back on its word and cry for entrapment ?!!
By Devirupa Mitra, IANS
NEW DELHI, June 15th, 2010: A former US diplomat, who was the deputy chief of mission at the New Delhi embassy, said then Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson came to India following the Bhopal gas tragedy only after getting assurance of “safe passage” from the Indian government.
Now a visiting professor of economics at Emory University in the US, Gordon Streeb was the charge d’affaires at the US embassy when poisonous methyl-isocyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant on Dec 2-3 night in 1984, killing nearly 3,000 people instantly and thousands over the years.
Streeb recalled that Union Carbide contacted the embassy indicating that its chairman, Anderson, wanted to fly to India to see for himself what had happened and to show “concern for the victims” at the “highest level of the company”.
“The issue was whether he would be guaranteed access to the site and eventual safe return to the US,” Streeb told IANS in an e-mail, adding: “This was a reasonable precaution since legal systems differ so widely around the world.”
With the ambassador, Harry G. Barnes, out of India, Streeb was liaising with the ministry of external affairs on the sensitive issue.
The ministry “advised that it would be a very welcome gesture if Anderson could come to India and that the government of India could assure him that no steps would be taken against him during his visit”.
Anderson came to India and reached Bhopal with the plan to meet with then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh.
Instead, he was arrested on Dec 7 by the state police.
“I immediately contacted the foreign ministry and was assured the (that) government of India would honour its commitment to provide Anderson safe passage in and out of India,” said Streeb in his communication to IANS.
Based on the Indian government’s assurance, Anderson was brought to New Delhi and “departed on the next commercial flight back to the United States”.
Streeb said that then foreign secretary, M.K. Rasgotra, had been his chief interlocutor during this period.
“I am in no position to comment on the decision making process within the government of India, i.e., who made the decisions referred to above and how Anderson’s release was arranged,” said Streeb, who is also member of the India China America Institute’s advisory board.
When IANS made efforts to contact Rasgotra, his secretary first said he was not available. In a second attempt, Rasgotra himself came on the line to say gruffly: “I have nothing to say (on this).”
Told that he was described as the interlocutor on the Anderson issue by Streeb, Rasgotra said “That is bloody nonsense” and disconnected.
While Arjun Singh has still not spoken publicly about the incidents, Indian ministers have said that the decision to let Anderson leave Bhopal was strictly a law and order decision.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters in Kolkata Sunday that Arjun Singh’s Dec 8, 1984 statement on the reason for Anderson being sent out of Bhopal was due to the deteriorating law and order situation and because people’s anger was “running high”.
“Therefore, it was thought necessary to send him (Anderson) out of Bhopal,” said Mukherjee.
In recent media reports, Arun Nehru, a close aide of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, claimed that Anderson had met then home minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and then president Zail Singh in New Delhi.
Nehru told a TV channel that the government had to give a clear idea of what happened during Anderson’s India visit, which led him to be given VIP treatment by the government.
A Bhopal court had Jan 1, 1992 issued a notice for Anderson’s appearance before it. After Anderson failed to turn up, non-bailable arrest warrants were issued against him.
In 2003, India sent an extradition request for Anderson to the US Justice Department, which rejected it in 2004. The last request for extradition by the ministry of external affairs was made in September 2008.
US ready to evaluate extradition request on Anderson – India ready to take this up or still caught in its own immature political blame game ?!!
From R. Vasudevan – Reporting from New Delhi
New Delhi, (Asian Tribune): Even as Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Kolkata on Saturday that India is trying for the extradition of former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson, the US has said it would “carefully evaluate” any request from India to bring to justice Anderson.
The former CEO of Union Carbide is wanted in a case related to the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy that killed several thousands of people.
“…if the government of India makes such a request of us, we will carefully evaluate it,” State Department spokesman P J Crowley, told reporters in Washington. “I’m not in position to verify, the fact, whether we have such requests or whether we have responded to it. We have an extradition treaty with India. And if India makes an extradition request to us, we will give it fair consideration,” he said.
The statement came days after an External Affairs Ministry official said in New Delhi that the US had rejected India’s extradition plea for want of more evidential links.
Maintaining that the ministry has “renewed the request for an extradition on a number of occasions from the time it was first made in 2003 to September 2008, when the last request was made,” the senior official said the MEA will “proceed on the basis of the collective decision of the government” on the issue.
Early this week, US Congressman Frank Pallone, the founder and former co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, supported the extradition demand.
“All those responsible for this disaster, including the former chairman of Union Carbide Warren Anderson, should stand trial in India and receive punishment that reflects the devastation and pain they have caused for thousands of people”.
“Warren Anderson absolutely deserves to be extradited from the US and punished for the full extent of his crimes. As chairman of Union Carbide at the time of the Bhopal gas disaster, Anderson was ultimately responsible for his company’s actions,” Pallone said.
Meanwhile, the suspicion that orders from the Rajiv Gandhi government at the Centre led to Union Carbide boss Warren Anderson being released from the custody of Madhya Pradesh police has been further strengthened by a declassified CIA report. The central government was “quick to release the Union Carbide chairman from house arrest yesterday”, said the report going back to December 8, 1984. Giving an explanation for Centre’s intervention, it says: “New Delhi believes state officials were overly eager to score political points against the company.”
Interestingly, it refers to media reports to conclude that both Centre and state governments were looking to “deflect the blame on the subsidiary”, suggesting that the American intelligence agency did not hold the MNC primarily responsible for the worst-ever industrial disaster. The report makes a strong suggestion that in releasing Anderson, Arjun Singh, the then CM of Madhya Pradesh, acted on the Centre’s orders.
– Asian Tribune –
Warren Anderson – the man who got away – or did he ?!! Had to live with his conscience he did, while extradition to India still hangs ?!!
Amberish K Diwanji / DNA
Mumbai: While top guns of Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) and those involved in plant operations on the night of December 2-3, 1984, have been indicted by the court, Warren Anderson, who was chairman and chief executive officer of Union Carbide Corporation (which owned the majority stake in UCIL) when the Bhopal gas disaster took place, is not among the guilty.
In fact, he was not even tried since he is absconding. On hearing about the gas leak, the US-based Anderson had flown down on December 4 and was arrested on landing in New Delhi. He was, however, soon granted bail and flew back on December 7, never to be seen in India again!
His escape created uproar, with the opposition cornering the government for not opposing the bail.
Anderson was declared an absconding fugitive by the Bhopal magistrate’s court in February 1992, after he failed to turn up despite repeated summons. On July 31, 2009, magistrate Prakash Mohan Tiwari issued an arrest warrant for him. The US government, however, made no move to extradite Anderson, while India never appeared to press the matter.
New Delhi said it did not know his whereabouts and hence, could not comply with the arrest order. It, however, stood exposed when a TV channel showed Anderson living in a house at Bridgehampton outside New York with wife Lillian.
Last year, Lillian told a news agency that Anderson was deeply troubled by the tragedy. “He’s been haunted for years” by the accident, she said. Lillian said Anderson, who is nearly 90 now, was in poor health and didn’t remember much. “When you get to be 87 years old, you don’t remember anything. You try to put bad things out of your mind,” she said.
Lillian insisted her husband had been unfairly targeted. “Every time somebody wanted to sue Union Carbide, there would be some kind of a thing that happened and they would be chasing Warren, following him to the dump with our trash,” she said. “This is 25 years of unfair treatment.”
And justice will be done? – specially for the victims ?!!
From Green Peace International
George Bush was willing to spend billions, sacrifice many innocent lives, break international laws and dole out summary justice in the pursuit of his misguided ‘war on terror’. However if you are a rich American ultimately responsible for the death of more than 20,000 poor people in far off India, you can expect a life of luxury safe from the long arm of the US law.
Warren Anderson, Union Carbide CEO at the time of the world’s worst industrial disaster in Bhopal, India, lives a life of luxury in New York State.
Anderson has been hiding in the US since an explosion at his company’s plant in Bhopal caused the immediate deaths of thousands of people and led to life long suffering for almost 120,000 survivors. He is wanted in India to face charges of culpable homicide over the deaths of 20,000 people since the disaster.
On the night of the disaster, December 3, 1984, an explosion at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant caused 40 tonnes of lethal gas to seep into Bhopal. Six safety measures designed to prevent a gas leak had either malfunctioned, were turned off or were otherwise inadequate. In addition, the safety siren, intended to alert the community should an incident occur at the plant, was turned off.
As the Union Carbide boss, Anderson knew about a 1982 safety audit of the Bhopal plant, which identified 30 major hazards. Rather than fix them in Bhopal, only the company’s identical plant in the US was fixed. Neglecting these hazards in Bhopal caused the deadly explosion. Anderson flew to India after the disaster but to the company’s surprise, police investigating the disaster immediately arrested him. He subsequently jumped bail and was flow by private jet back to the US, never to return to India.
While fleeing the law in India his company abandoned the polluted factory site allowing it to poison Bhopal residents for 18 years. He did not disclose the composition of the poisonous gas (the company still claims this is a trade secret), thus preventing doctors from properly treating the 120,000 people who are still sick. Company lawyers ensured survivors only got between US$300-500 compensation each, if they were ‘lucky’, for their ruined lives. Dow Chemical took over Union Carbide in 2001 but it claims Union Carbide has ‘settled’ the issue of Bhopal.
Despite being wanted in India and by Interpol, Indian and US authorities have been inactive for the last 18 years. US authorities claimed they could not find Anderson and India has not pursued his extradition from the US for fear of damaging US investment and trade. However last year with the help of a UK newspaper we tracked him down to a luxury home in Long Island, New York. Life as a corporate criminal in the states is hardly difficult – Anderson’s yearly golf club membership alone is 3-4 times the average compensation for a Bhopal survivor.
Possibly spurred by Anderson’s discovery and growing protests at home, the Indian Government has formally filed an extradition request with the US. Better 18 years late than never. The order is likely to be ignored by the US and, no doubt, India hopes it can relieve pressure at home while relying on the US inaction.
Just maybe Warren Anderson will be back in Bhopal in time to answer charges in court about the disaster in time for its 20th anniversary. Unlikely, but at least more likely now than any other time in the last 19 years.
View the three part slideshow on the Bhopal disaster:
Part One – Immediate aftermath and the tragic effects of an avoidable disaster.
Part Two – Devastating effects on local people still suffering almost 18 years later.
Part Three – Suffering but not in silence– Will Dow listen to calls to clean up Bhopal?
MEANWHILE – JUST IN – in a somewhat similar incident in the US …
Obama heads into showdown with BP with demands for full payment, greater efforts to stop spill – and willing to listen to India’s pain and redeem the image of USofA here by bringing about a fair closure here ?!!
By Steven R. Hurst (CP) – 27 minutes ago
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama confronts BP leaders on Wednesday, brandishing the full powers of his office to demand they put aside vast sums to repay the losses of Americans along the devastated Gulf of Mexico coast.
The meeting flows from Obama’s first and, some say disappointing, Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday night when he laid out what his administration has done and will do to overcome the country’s worst environmental crisis.
Millions upon millions of gallons (litres) of polluting crude oil continue to spew into the Gulf nearly two months after the British-based company’s Deep Horizon drilling platform exploded, killing 11 workers and setting in motion an environmental and economic catastrophe.
Responding to critics who said Obama was too moderate in the Oval Office speech, a forum saved by president’s for national crises, senior adviser David Axelrod said Wednesday that Americans “were not asking him to get angry. They were asking him to get results.”
Of the coming meeting with BP executives, Axelrod said on MSNBC, “We have one mission. That mission is ensuring the people of the Gulf are made whole. It will be clear to them and to the country.”
The president will be meeting with BP Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg and the company’s chief executive, Tony Hayward.
In Obama’s 18-minute speech Tuesday night , he promised not only relentless pressure on BP but also pressed Congress to quickly pass a law that would put the United States on an environmentally friendly course toward energy independence.
“You have to stick to your knitting,” Axelrod said of Obama’s use of the speech to press yet again for one of his signature legislative goals.
It remains to be seen on the political front whether Obama overcame the sense among a majority of Americans that he is powerless to stem the leak and late to muster the country’s full arsenal against the ever-increasing environmental disaster.
The president acknowledged there would be more damage before the spill is contained. He said the country could be tied up with the oil and its aftermath for months or years.
“We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused,” Obama declared.
That said, Obama refused to set aside his vision for the country’s energy future.
“Countries like China are investing in clean-energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil,” he said. “The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now.”
Obama has been scrambling to show he is doing everything he can to stop the massive environmental and financial damage from the oil leak. But the government doesn’t have the technology to stop a spill at a depth of one-mile (1.6 kilometres), forcing Obama to rely on BP to fix it.
Even so, Obama said: “We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long it takes.”
The president’s address capped a two-day inspection tour of the stricken Gulf of Mexico region, and was lent new urgency as scientists announced the spill could be worse than previously thought. It’s something he will bring up with the BP executives.
“I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness,” Obama said.
BP declined to offer details about what proposals it would bring to the meeting or any reaction to Obama’s biting words.
The company said in a statement that it shares Obama’s goal of “shutting off the well as quickly as possible, cleaning up the oil and mitigating the impact on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast. We look forward to meeting with President Obama tomorrow for a constructive discussion about how to best achieve these mutual goals.”
Obama said the proposed damages fund, used to pay claims to workers and business owners, won’t be run by BP. He said an independent third party will be in charge to ensure people are paid in a fair and timely way. Key issues remain unresolved such as who will oversee the escrow fund and how large it will be.
Obama said his government also has directed BP to mobilize more equipment and technology and that stepped-up efforts in the coming weeks should result in the capture of 90 per cent of the oil spewing out of the well. Completion of a relief well later in the summer is expected to “stop the leak completely,” the president added.
The president expects to be able to announce a deal quickly to an impatient nation. He planned a Rose Garden statement after the meeting.
The new Associated Press-GfK poll released Tuesday found 52 per cent of those surveyed don’t approve of Obama’s handling of the spill, up significantly from last month. But the public is directing most of its ire at the oil company. A stunning 83 per cent disapprove of BP’s performance in the aftermath of the rig explosion, while Obama’s overall job performance rating has stayed virtually the same at 50 per cent.
Obama said he had asked former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, an ex-governor of Mississippi, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan — also to be funded by BP — in concert with local states, communities, fishermen, conservationists and residents.
“We must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment,” the president said.
Earlier Tuesday, a government panel of scientists said the oil spill was leaking between 1.47 million gallons (5.56 million litres) and 2.52 million gallons (9.54 million litres) a day — an increase over previous estimates that put the maximum size of the spill at 2.2 million gallons (8.33 million litres) per day.
As of Tuesday, the maximum amount of oil that has gushed out of the well since the April 20 explosion is 116 million gallons (439 million litres), according to the estimates by scientists advising the federal government.
Obama also announced he had picked former Justice Department inspector general Michael Bromwich to lead the agency that regulates the oil industry, replacing Elizabeth Birnbaum, who has stepped down as director of the Minerals Management Service following accusations of lax oversight of drilling and cozy ties with the industry.
Copyright © 2010 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
Time to move on, rehabilitate victims: Congress on Bhopal – time for responsible politics in India with a constructive goal and the true version of Hindutva ?!!
From The Zeenews Bureau
New Delhi: Increasing public outcry on the Bhopal gas verdict, especially the new details about Warren Anderson’s ‘great escape’ has clearly put the Congress party on the back foot as it is now urging that ‘it is time to move on’, and pay more attention to the proper rehabilitation of 1984 tragedy victims.
Speaking to reporters on the issue, Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natrajan said, “We should look forward in the national interest and concentrate more on the proper rehabilitation of the victims and the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster.”
The Congress leader reaffirmed faith in the judiciary and said that those responsible for the tragedy were duly convicted by the honourable court.
However, she evaded questions on fixing the responsibility on the state and central government (both Congress) of the time; especially in relation to the safe exit provided to the Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson.
When pressed further by reporters on the Congress’ connivance in the entire episode, Natrajan said, “I have nothing further to add on the issue. We have asked the government to initiate process for extraditing Union Carbide CEO Anderson.”
She also ducked the question on the role of then Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Arjun Singh in Anderson’s escape from India to US. Natarajan said, “Please try to understand that I can only comment up to certain level. But I still reiterate that we should now look forward and ensure that nothing like the Bhopal gas tragedy occurs in the future.”
The Congress leader also slammed the main opposition BJP for unnecessarily politicising the issue and said, “The party itself has lot to answer for.”
The cautious reactions from Natrajan come at a time when the Congress party appears divided on the issue and has distanced itself from the Bhopal gas controversy.
Natrajan’s clarification also follows senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s jumping into the defence of his political rival Arjun Singh over the safe passage given to Warren Anderson.
Defending Arjun Singh, Digvijay had said that the state government was not responsible for the CEO’s exit, and it appears to have been facilitated under US pressure.