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Anderson's escape haunts Cong's upper echelon

June 12, 2010 01:18 IST

There appears to be a great deal of unease at the higher levels of the Congress party over Warren Anderson's escape from India with even key allies working the phones to their friends in the party wondering what is going on in the ruling party.

A senior leader described the atmosphere in the party as similar to a gang war and said the issue appeared to be gathering serious momentum. Another leader said it is interesting that while Rajiv Gandhi is being attacked and accused openly of working under American pressure, the PMO is absolutely quiet, not saying a word though it is expected that the government would have more facts at its disposal and would be able to add to the ongoing debate.

While Arjun Singh who has already met Sonia Gandhi continues to remain quiet, merely threatening to speak at the appropriate time, it has been left to the party to defend Rajiv Gandhi, with party spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan categorically denying that the former PM had any role to play in the decision to let Warren Anderson leave India. The party has made it clear that a Group Of Ministers has been put in place and this GOM would use all the resources at its command of the government to find out the truth and bring it before the people. Natarajan went to the extent of saying this must be done, even if it means reopening the case. Otherwise she said, 26 years have passed and most of the facts are not available with the party.

Interestingly, even as Congress leaders are speaking out, either for or against, with former bureaucrats and others also adding their bit to what is known, an English news channel flashed a declassified CIA document which states that it was Rajiv Gandhi who ordered Arjun Singh to arrange Anderson's departure from the country under pressure from the united states. But only half of that document has been declassified.The first half which they claim deals with the United States is blank while only the part about India has been declassified. Congress party insiders find this very strange.

Some Congress leaders candidly admit that Warren Anderson's escape is not a people's issue nor is it an issue which can take away votes but it has suddenly become a big issue within the Congress party, particularly in the wake of the prime minister's recent remarks clearly spelling out that he is not ready to give up the office of the prime minister as he still has a great deal of work to complete.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi