In politics, it is common to make allegations and counter allegations. But the greatest anathema of Indian politics today is that the politicians and their affiliated parties, throwing all ethics and established decorum to the wind, are playing dirty games to run down their opponents. In the country, the largest democracy of the world with around 130-crore population, the elected representatives, it seems, have no work enshrined in the Constitution for them to do, but to peep at the private life of opponents and mud-slinging and casting aspersions on each other.
They have no fear of the people who elected them to the highest law-making bodies to safeguard the interest of the nation. Instead of keeping their dignity and, of course, of the dignity of their electorates, they are bent upon to play ugly politics of character assassination.
Before playing such dirty tricks for damaging reputation of others, at least, they should have remembered the quote by great Christian preacher Billy Graham, “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.” Character is the most precious asset of one’s life, and our politicians must have the wisdom not to play with it for petty political gains.
Recently, two incidents of character assassination bids allegedly were made by two major political parties in two states governed by the BJP for years.
The first incident was reported from Chhattisgarh, in which a senior journalist, Vinod Verma, was arrested from his residence in Ghaziabad by the Chhattisgarh police on the charges of extortion and making sex CD featuring a BJP minister in Chhattisgarh, allegedly at the behest of the Congress state chief.
Close on the heels of the Chhattisgarh sex CD case, a sex video scandal purportedly involving the Gujarat’s Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader Hardik Patel, has gone viral in social media.
The pre-dawn arrest of Vinod Verma has triggered outrage, with a deluge of posts on social media. The social media reports have even reminded one of coming back of the Emergency Era in the country.
Even as a year is left when Chhattisgarh will go to polls in December 2018, political manoeuvres go in full throttle after the sex CD of the Chhattisgarh minister stirred the ruling-opposition relations that hurtle on yet another downhill journey.
Soon after the arrest of the journo, the Chhattisgarh government, even before someone making allegations against it, in a hurriedly convened press meet, claimed that Verma was working with the opposition Congress to discredit the BJP government.
The incident took a political colour when the opposition Congress state chief Bhupesh Baghel claimed that he was in possession of the said CD. He demanded resignation of the minister and said the journalist was framed without any logic as mere possession of a CD was not a crime. Baghel, denying of having any link with Verma, said “This is an attack on democracy and we condemn this. They are targeting a journalist to protect their minister”.
However, the ruling party launched a scathing attack on the Congress, saying “If there was a CD against the minister, what was the logic of making 500 copies.” BJP state president Dharamlal Kaushik termed the CD as fake and demanded a high level enquiry into the matter.
In the meanwhile, the police are investigating the set of sex CDs, allegedly showing the powerful Chhattisgarh minister in the red, and allegations of blackmail by the senior journo who has worked with BBC and Amar Ujala in past over the CDs. The police claimed it has seized hundreds of CDs, a laptop and a pen drive from Verma’s home. They said Verma “intended” to distribute objectionable Cds.
The Gujarat Sex scandal
Gujarat’s Patidar leader Hardik Patel is in the eye of a storm over a sex CD which came in public domain on November 13. The video clip, which has since gone viral, shows a man sharing some intimate moments with a woman. The man is alleged to be the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti (PAAS) leader.
Most significantly, the sex CD was released when Hardik Patel was engaged in negotiations with the Congress for several days over alignment before the state polls. The latest controversy threatened to erode the PAAS leader’s bargaining power.
Whatever may be the truth behind the sex CD, but it has been released at a crucial juncture. The two-phase Gujarat Assembly election will be held on December 9 and 14. The sleazy CD has the potential to impact the Gujarat election which will be held in less than a month.
Allegedly, the Right wing supporters on the Internet and offline jumped at the opportunity to shame him for having pre-marital sex. In the meanwhile, Patel’s party supporters, along with the Congress, retorted that the video had been leaked by the BJP ahead of the Gujarat assembly elections. If true, I expect no less of them either.
Hardik Patel could be unapologetic in the wake of his ‘sex CD’ surfacing, but he doesn’t even have to pretend like something catastrophic has happened to him to gather public sympathy. Not once did he have to show that he was ashamed or apologetic of just the topic of a controversy about his sex life.
He was understandably angry and, initially, furiously claimed that the first video was fake. He told the Times of India, “Dirty politics has started now. You can defame me but it will make no difference. I will consult my lawyers and file a complaint soon against perpetrators of this sex CD.” Since then, four more videos of Patel have leaked. He has not commented on their authenticity yet.
Meanwhile, BJP leader and union minister Mansukh Mandaviya said, “The BJP has nothing to do with the sex CD. We don’t indulge in such dirty games. But if Hardik Patel says it’s a fake video, why doesn’t he file a police complaint?”
“I have a sex CD of a Chhattisgarh PWD Minister, he is Rajesh Munat and that is why the Chhattisgarh government is not happy with me,” Verma, who is allegedly related to the Leader of Opposition in Chhattisgarh State Assembly, Bhupesh Baghel, told reporters.
A case of blackmail and extortion has been registered against the scribe at Pandri police station in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh.
“A huge quantity of CDs has been seized from the journalist’s house. We are scrutinising the material to check whether there is any link to sex scandal involving higher-ups,” said Senior Superintendent of Police HN Singh and added “Can’t reveal the details but contents of the CD violate Section 67 of IT Act.”
The Raipur Superintendent of Police, Sanjeev Shukla said during probe, the police came to know about a shop where the CD in question was copied and the shopkeeper said one Vinod Verma had made one thousand copies of the CD. The police claimed to have seized 500 copies from Verma’s residence and “sufficient” evidences against the scribe. Verma, however, denied having CDs and said he was carrying just a pen drive. He also denied the charges of blackmail.
In the sex CD case an FIR has been wedged against the state Congress chief, Bhupesh Baghel, under section 67A of the IT Act.
False news and sensation is being spread: Munat
Chhattisgarh Minister Rajesh Munat, on his part, said the CD was a fake one and that it was a conspiracy by the Congress. He said he had requested Chief Minister Raman Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president and the national leadership for a high-level inquiry into the controversial sex CD scandal, allegedly involving him.
“False news and sensation is being spread accusing me. I had said that the CD was false; it has no credibility,” Munat said. He also said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would probe to find out who was responsible for the fake CD.
“The cabinet and the whole party together made a decision that a CBI investigation will be done to find out who brought the CD into existence and who hatched the political conspiracy.” Investigation should be done because the way politics was being played was “not right,” asserted Munat.
The minister further said that he did not blame the Congress, adding that he had credibility. “I would just like to tell them that before accusing anyone of such degrading things, get the facts right. We also do politics but if you are not accepting a particular fact then there is no need to play politics by fake accusations,” he added.
Hardik claims the video is morphed
Hardik Patel, who has been spearheading an agitation since 2016 to demand reservation in government jobs to the Patidars and Patels in Gujarat, has denied that he is the man seen in the video, claiming that it is “morphed” and “doctored”. The PAAS leader alleged that the BJP had released the CD to malign his reputation and claimed that the video was uploaded from outside India.
“Can a 23-year-old youth not have girlfriends?” is Hardik Patel’s indignant response after an alleged sex video made appearance, which shows the Patidar leader in the supposed company of a woman.
In an interview with the Indian Express after his rally in Bharuch, Patel says that the BJP has created a fake video of the 23-year-old to ‘character-assassinate’ him.
Stating that he has lost all faith in the legal system in a state administered by the BJP, Patel said he does not see the point in taking the legal course of action.
23-year-old Patel is underage to contest the polls, but that does not mean he doesn’t have an agenda. Denying that he is a ‘kingmaker’, he calls himself an ‘agent of the people’.
Raman Singh questions Opposition’s role
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh questioned the Opposition’s role in the controversial sex CD scandal allegedly involving state minister Rajesh Munat. “The first question that needs to be raised: what is the role of Congress in the entire controversy?” Singh said.
Speaking about the hurried arrest of the journalist, Singh said, “People should be happy for the swift action of the police instead of feeling sad about it.” The chief minister also slammed the Congress for protesting Verma’s arrest and said truth will soon come out before the nation.
“What is the point of this movement when we have already ordered a forensic probe into the case. The facts will soon come out in front of the nation,” Singh said.
Cong demands impartial probe
The Congress leadership in the state demanded the resignation of the minister concerned and pitched for an independent impartial probe into the episode by a sitting Supreme Court judge. “The Congress demands that Verma be released immediately and the entire episode be probed independently. We also demand the resignation of the Chhattisgarh minister,” said Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera. He said Verma was arrested even though no FIR was lodged against him and added that the minister concerned too had not stated that the journalist blackmailed or threatened him through phone calls or text messages. “Is it a crime if Verma was investigating a sex scandal involving a BJP minister?” the Congress leader asked. The party held a massive rally and gheraoed Chief Minister Raman Singh’s house in support of its demands.” Taking strong exception to the “blind” support lent by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and cabinet ministers to the minister, the Congress charged the local police with acting at the Chief Minister’s behest to arrest senior journalist Vinod Verma from Ghaziabad on the charges of blackmailing the Minister with the sex CD.
Rejecting BJP leaders’ allegation that he was hand in glove with Verma who happens to be his relative to tarnish the image of the minister and the government for electoral gain, the Congress state chief Baghel said although Verma is a distant relative and a Congress sympathiser, he is not a member of the party.
Chhattisgarh govt for CBI probe
Amid the controversy, the BJP government recommended CBI probe into the “sex CD” case allegedly involving state PWD Minister Rajesh Munat. The BJP said technology should be used in politics but not for “destructive purposes”, while the Congress asserted truth needs to reach to the people in this age of transparency. Claiming that the alleged sex video was morphed and tampered with, BJP MLA and spokesperson Shivratan Sharma alleged the Congress used the technology for “character assassination” of a political leader, which should not be done.
Meanwhile, Leader of Opposition in the Chhattisgarh Assembly, TS Singhdeo, said investigative journalism is not a new thing and is being practised for decades. People believe there should be no restriction in bringing out the truth in this transparent age, he added. “There is nothing wrong in exposing something which is wrong, though the publication of false and fake information is absolutely inappropriate and should not be done,” he said.
Jogi accuses Cong for the mess:
What stirred the political cauldron was Ajit Jogi’s Chhattisgarh Janata Congress plunging into the scene and accusing Congress for the mess. “The relatives of Congress leaders are meticulously making CDs in Delhi and blackmailing leaders for money,” Amit Jogi, legislator and Ajit Jogi’s on, said.
AAP raises questions on Verma’s arrest
On the arrest of journalist Vinod Verma, Aam Aadmi Party spokesperson Ashutosh took to his Twitter and raised several questions on Verma’s arrest and also questioned if this is an attack on media.
*Views expressed in the article are author’s personal.