AAP & Tejpal: Doctor, heal thyself
In the last week ending November 22 two idols which self-claimed to be crusaders against corruption and wrongdoing crashed to the ground: Tehalka's Tarun Tejpal and AAP's Arvind Kejriwal.
Arvind Kejriwal groomed himself in the lap of social activities and fighter against corruption Anna Hazare. He utilized Anna's movement against corruption to raise an institution called Lokpal to project himself as the number 2 in the movement. Initially, Kejriwal derided intrusion of politics into the campaign for Lokpal to fight corruption. It looked to him, then, that politics and politicians would pollute the campaign to cleanse administration and eradicate corruption. He turned away politicians who came to express their support and solidarity for the cause at Janta Mantar. But, in less than a year, he got so fascinated by the glare and glamour of politics that that he himself decided to have a plunge in the mud of politics. He, perhaps, thought that the mud would not stick to his oily body and clean white the stains on his clothes in the same way as do our detergents claim. He formed a political organization under the name and style of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He made a debut in Delhi elections and was the first to project himself as the 'clean' challenger to the 'tainted' Congress chief minister Mrs. Sheila Dixit and to be the chief minister if his party was voted into power. He put stickers on auto-rickshaws and elsewhere to vote out Dixit and vote in 'honest' Kejriwal.
To buttress his image as a relentless and fearless fighter against corruption, he took pride in quick-start his political career by taking pride in coming out with charges of corruption and wrongdoing against various leaders. By targeting top leaders of almost every national political party worth the name, he projected himself and his party as the only clean man and the rest just corrupt and scamsters. He claimed that his allegations were hundred percent true. If anybody challenged his accusations, he tried to give the impression that the leader accused was just trying to save his skin by telling lies.
But last week, a person who was once a member of his close group, gave Kejriwal the taste of what he was serving to other political leaders. Kejriwal adopted the same line of defence which Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had been practicing — disappearing from the glare of media and television cameras pushing up their henchmen to defend them. It was akin to the commander shielding himself from the enemy strike by taking a position of safety behind his troops.
It now looks Kejriwal has moved ahead from his infancy to adulthood in politics. To specific charges against him and his cronies, Kejriwal is using the same shields and using the same techniques, words and arguments his opponents had been employing to face a barrage of attacks by him. His spokespersons are beating about the bush in their zeal to defend him and the party without satisfying the people on the specific allegations made against Kejriwal and other members. They have, so far, not volunteered a fair, free and impartial inquiry into the allegations by any judicial or investigating authority of their choice. Instead they have preferred to issue clean chits to the persons involved. He is threatening his accusers who are daring him to do so.
People are therefore left to draw their own conclusions.
God that failed
The Tarun Tejpal case in which he has been accused to sexual assault on his own journalist-employee has caused another storm. Tarun Tejpal had earned a name for himself as a sober investigative journalist who had exploded some scams. But now he has been caught in his own webb. A journalist on the roles of his paper has accused him of sexual assault on her in Goa. It goes to his credit that he did not go out to out-rightly reject the charges as false, untrue, malicious, aimed at character assassination and motivated by his detractors. As atonement he stepped down from the editorship of Tehalka for six months. He regretted his action too. His managing editor Mrs. Shobha Chaudhary tried to project it as a 'family affair' barred to the piercing eyes of outsiders. The management has also constituted a house committee to look into the incident.
This action on the part of Tehlka management attracted a comment that Tarun Tejpal is trying to be an accused, investigator and a judge — all by himself.
Needless to recall that when Tehlka resorted to sting operations against BJP president Bangaru Laxman or against the Defence Ministry officers, he did not want the matter to be treated as a "family affair", as the magazine now tries to do. Criminal cases were registered against the persons involved and punishment awarded following their being found guilty. But Tejpal wishes that a different yardstick should be employed in his case.
If 'atonement' was the adequate punishment, the self-styled godmen like Asaram Bapu too could take the same recourse and get away with punishment because criminal charges against them are not more heinous than those against Tejpal.
Now that Goa police has come into action registering a case and recording statements of the victim's colleagues and associates, including those of Shobha Verma, Tejpal too is reported to have developed second thoughts on his earlier statements. He is now trying to extricate himself from the involvement. He has even sought pre-arrest bail.
Congress is making all out noise on the alleged surveillance of a girl in Gujarat and demanding a probe by a Supreme Court judge although no crime was involved as the girl herself and her father have said that all this was done with their knowledge and they have no complaint. But, intriguingly, this very party is keeping a stoic silence on this heinous crime against a woman. There are reports that some senior party and government functionaries are going the whole hog to protect him. Even the Central Women Commission does not seem to be stirred by this incident. Human Rights Commission too continues to keep mum.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the targets of Tejpal's sting operations and the stinging language in his magazines had always been non-Congress leaders and Hindu organizations and individuals connected with it. This fact now seems to have gagged the voice of these sections of society who derived political and social benefit from Tejpal exposures and disclosures. ***