Tehelka Magazine for posterity will go down in the history books as the tainted organization that Institutionalized a destructive and negative political culture of entrapment and stings to settle political scores.
The images of Bangaru Lakshman’s awkward handling of hard cash on national television have made him an unfair example to tout. To Mr. Lakshman’s credit he took the trial by media in stride without making it about Dalit victimhood.
But 10 years later the Lakshman sentencing by a lower court in Delhi says much about how broken and flawed our Justice system can be coonsidering that in the same Court system the moral axis was reversed in the Cash for Votes sting case with the whistleblowers being tried as the guilty parties while the alleged beneficiaries walk scott free. From the Abhishek Singhvi CD episode to these two starkly contrasting sting cases what we see is a vitiated political atmosphere in Delhi that has left the lower court system politically compromised.
There is Justice in Bangaru Lakshman’s conviction for he acted without the ethical Judgment expected of a National Party President. There is however no Justice in this 4 year sentence for it inflicts more injury on Bangaru Lakshman than Bangaru Lakshman ever inflicted. In fact Bangaru Lakshman inflicted no injury at all on anyone in this fictitious crime while paying a steep personal price for 10 years and rightly so.
Today Bangaru Lakshman is friendless but that may also be because he dared to go where no BJP President ever went with these remarks in 2000:
The episode also says much of what the BJP has become in Delhi with its culture of foisting Party Presidents from nowhere (the current incumbent included) and the manner in which it gets animated against the Congress whenever a scandal makes news. The BJP may be right that the conviction is Mr. Lakshman’s personal matter but it says much that it cannot speak out on the travesty that his 4 year Sentence is.
On a personal note I met Bangaru Lakshman once, while being familiar with his role in local politics growing up around Hyderabad. His rise to Party President was a surprise given an otherwise lackluster political career but his inaugural speech in August of 2000 in Nagpur showed much promise – a Dalit at the helm of BJP who dared to challenge conventional wisdom on engaging the Muslim community.
“The BJP has not yet become the preferred party of governance in the eyes of the people,” Laxman, who took over as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s first Dalit president today, said in his presidential address to the National Council which began its two-day session here.
Emphasising the need for reworking the relationship between the party and Muslims in the country, he said “the party has not made sustained efforts to reach out to Indian Muslims in a bid to weaken the influence on their minds of the sustained negative propaganda of our adversaries.”
Lakshman said, “We have somehow taken it for granted that our party will not receive any significant support from them. This preconceived approach has not helped our party either. We cannot afford to allow this situation to continue. If we do so, we shall be hurting our own future prospects and Muslims will continue to be used as vote banks by our adversaries.”
Bangaru Lakshman’s fall hence was a huge personal disappointment as well.