So now you know to what lengths the Sonia Gandhi Congress could go to stop the Narendra Modi juggernaut. The Supreme Court order last week left little room for doubt that the party had hatched a criminal conspiracy to somehow incriminate Modi directly in the 2002 riots. A cursory look at the 80-page court order in the Sanjiv Bhatt case would be enough to establish how sections of the media, civil society and even the judiciary were sought to be co-opted in a diabolic plan to tar Modi with the brush of those horrendous riots.
The worthy legatees of Indira Gandhi, who had publicly called for a committed judiciary and a committed bureaucracy, thought nothing of roping in Bhatt, then a serving mid-level police officer with a particularly odious reputation, to try and bring down their bête noire and his Chief Minister. To its credit, the Congress leadership anticipated the rise of Modi long before anyone could believe that the BJP would be led by anyone other than L.K. Advani. But where it erred was in hand-picking someone like Bhatt to do the dirty job.
The crooked Gujarat cadre IPS officer at the heart of the plot had claimed that he was present at a meeting the then Chief Minister of Gujarat had convened where he asked them to let “people vent their anger against the killing of Hindus in the Godhra train fire”. That this was a cock and bull claim was clear to everyone other than the plotters. Blinded by their animus against Modi and feeling puffed up by power, these nitwits even glossed over simple, commonsensical things. And got trapped in their own web of lies.
Bhatt, a venal officer if ever there was one, did not have any cogent explanation why he had remained silent for good nine years before talking about the impugned Modi meeting. That he had not mentioned edgeways about such a meeting in his earlier deposition before an inquiry committee was another giveaway. Anyway, he was too junior in 2002 to be asked to attend the CM’s meeting. But because he spoke the lie at the behest of the Congress bosses, it was enough to lend it legs for five years until the highest court in the land finally nailed it for what it was, that is, a white lie.
The SC order exposes the sheer cynicism of the conspirators. The dirty tricks they played to advance partisan interests, manufacturing evidence as they went along, planting it on a section of the media, which, anyway, was only too eager to lap up everything against Modi. Even judges were not spared, with Bhatt suggesting in one of the emails that a media blitz ought to be timed when his case came up for hearing. Tellingly, while the IPS officer was willing to mouth lies, and accept “packets” from his Congress patrons, his driver wasn’t. In a sworn affidavit the driver too exposed the conspiracy.
But this was not the only case in which the courts had come down hard on the Congress bosses this past week. The 2G court, while dismissing the case against former Telecom Secretary Shyamal Ghosh, too had some harsh words for the former rulers. Actually, the order in this case was even more damning. It said that the charges against Ghosh and a few others were filed on wholly false grounds; the CBI had tried to create evidence of wrongdoing where none existed; an honest officer with a sterling record was needlessly harassed, etc.
Even at the time the case was filed it was said that the real objective was to establish some sort of equivalence with the NDA. If there was a 2G scam against the UPA, the latter was keen to establish that there was one against the NDA as well. So a case was manufactured against the late Pramod Mahajan and the then Telecom Secretary. The inventor of the zero-loss theory was widely known to have prevailed on the CBI to cook up the charges. But the court order trashing the CBI for its impudence in pushing a non-case was actually tantamount to a strong rap against the zero-loss theorist. His identity is too well known to require amplification here.
Though it is a given that the hidebound Congress leadership would take the court strictures in its stride, and a cynical media would barely take notice, there remains the little question about the immense mental and financial pain gratuitously inflicted on Ghosh and his family. His house was raided, he was made to make the rounds of lawyers, pay them from his meager savings and rely on his NRI son to fund him whenever necessary. That after occupying some of the key posts in various economic ministries the retired secretary to the GOI lives in a modest flat in a cooperative society of babus in Dwarka was an additional pointer about his incorruptibility. To tar such a man for wholly political purposes shows the depravity of the UPA leaders.
Now, will the zero-loss inventor, who probably makes more money in a day than honest bureaucrats like Ghosh made in a full year, compensate him for the trouble he needlessly put him to merely because he was keen to prove his usefulness to his party bosses? We have our doubts. At least, an apology, even if penned in bad poetry, would be in order.
A PROTEST PANTOMIME
Whatever else the flurry of relinquishments of the Sahtiya Akademi awards may or may not have accomplished, at least one good thing has already flowed from it. Thanks to the ersatz show of anger in daily installments, there is a good chance that ordinary people might come to know the names of some of these literary giants. What for the lemmings-like conduct of these worthies, it is highly unlikely that anyone would have noticed that the country is fortunate to have so many men and women of letters. Now we are not being catty. No. Not at all.
The truth is that when the actual awards are announced and the winners decorated with a citation and cash prize each hardly anyone takes note. A grainy half-column photo with a couple of paras tucked away in some obscure corner of the newspaper is all that they get. As for the television channels, well, they barely take note of such non-TRP news. But post-Dadri, it would seem the Sahtiya Akademi winners never had it so good. Now they are the toast of the television channels, particularly the English language news channels, their mug shots are flashed constantly on the small screen, quite a few appear in panel discussions, holding forth on the alleged perfidy of the Modi government in awakening their hitherto sleeping conscience.
The smouldering embers might have been doused in Dadri, but in the television studios these still burn bright, thanks to the visceral confluence of interest of the editors and the award-returning artists. That this pantomime of protest has gladdened the hearts of the party that pelted all constitutional institutions, superseded judges, banned books, some even without reading them, and generally behaved in a most authoritarian manner is a crowning irony. It would seem that a real catastrophe has befallen India which our literary warriors are out to vanish with the sheer force of their angst as channeled through the TRP-hungry media.
We are blessed living in times when the country gets to accord so much weight to its literary giants, something the previous generations completely missed out on. Will more Sahtiya Akademi winners please come forward? The Manohar Lal Khattars, Mahesh Sharmas, Sangeet Soms and others of their ilk are eager to accord them a hearty welcome.
Come on, do not lose a sense of perspective, dear artists. India has survived through the worst. This is nothing compared to the times when the highest court in the land on record had empowered the executive to kill at will without any questions being asked by anyone. Let him who has not compromised return his Sahitya Akademi award. Is there anyone around?