When cash & booze nearly introduced down Vajpayee govt

Rahul Singh

The Tehelka case has come to a conclusion of types, after twenty years, with the conviction of one of many foremost accused, Jaya Jaitly. She has been discovered responsible of “criminal conspiracy” below the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act by a particular CBI court docket, and subsequently sentenced to 4 years in jail. Maj Gen SP Murgai (retd) and Gopal Pacherwal, a political colleague of Jaitly, had been additionally discovered responsible, whereas a fourth accused, a businessman, Surendra Surekha, turned approver. The financial kickbacks had been allegedly handed over to them on the residence of the Defence Minister, George Fernandes, who was later compelled to resign. The Vajpayee authorities got here perilously near falling.

Earlier, a string of high-ranking navy officers and officers of the Ministry of Defence had been, likewise, discovered responsible in the identical case. But the most important casualty of the sting operation was the late Bangaru Laxman, the then president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who, too, was sentenced to 4 years in jail. The secret footage of him shovelling a mass of foreign money notes into the drawer of his desk stays indelibly etched in reminiscence.

Tehelka (which means “commotion”) was arrange in 2000 and was India’s first journalistic web site. It was conceived by Tarun Tejpal, although the sting operations utilizing secret cameras, a novelty then, had been the brainchild of Aniruddha Bahal and Mathew Samuel. Tehelka first uncovered a cricket match-fixing scandal in an India versus South Africa Test. But what caught the general public creativeness was its ‘Operation West End’. Samuel pretended to be the consultant of a fictitious London-based firm manufacturing “hand-held thermal cameras” that had been wanted by the Indian Army. The sting operation revealed that senior members of the armed forces, politicians and officers within the MoD had been solely too prepared to be bribed. And the bribes went proper as much as the highest. As was stated on the time, it was all about ‘money, booze and sex’. One senior Army officer even specified what model of Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky was to be delivered to him! The bribe-takers wished girls — and acquired them. ‘West End’ confirmed up the ministry in a murky, shameful mild.

Let me flip to Jaya Jaitly and Tarun Tejpal, since I’ve recognized each of them for a few years.

Jaya was all the time known as June by her buddies, and her maiden surname was Chettur. Her father, a profession diplomat, died in service, comparatively younger. I acquired to know her once we had been each nonetheless at school. A dusky, hanging, good girl, she turned males’s heads. She was chosen as ‘Miss Miranda’ when she joined Miranda House, essentially the most elite girls’s school in Delhi University. In these days, they used to have a casual magnificence contest — later discontinued by feminists — among the many freshers (Brinda Karat, the outstanding Communist Party chief, often known as Binnie Das earlier than her marriage, was one other ‘Miss Miranda’). June later married Ashok (‘Tony’) Jaitly, who joined the Indian Administrative Service. Their daughter married Test cricketer Ajay Jadeja, who confronted costs of match-fixing.

In 1977, the infamous Emergency ended, the Congress misplaced the General Election and the Janata Party got here to energy. George Fernandes was made the Industries Minister, a disastrous selection, as overseas funding into the nation froze, with the expulsion of company giants IBM and Coca-Cola (they had been required to change into majority Indian shareholding, which they refused). India’s improvement suffered. But Fernandes had acquired mythic proportions, together with the romantic picture of a simple-living idealist preventing for the widespread man and for justice. It was a completely pretend façade, for sure, as he grew to become adept at switching events and loyalties. From being an ardent socialist and secularist, he became an equally ardent ally of the BJP, and was appointed Defence Minister within the Vajpayee authorities (as disastrous an appointment, as Tehelka’s sting clearly revealed). But his dashing picture attracted girls. Jaya Jaitly was certainly one of them, facilitated by the truth that her husband was appointed particular assistant to Fernandes when he was the Industries Minister. Meanwhile, his marriage to Leila (daughter of Humayun Kabir, a former minister) was unravelling. Later, the Jaitlys additionally cut up and Jaya grew to become a relentless “companion” of Fernandes.

I acquired to know Tarun Tejpal in 1985, once I was the Resident Editor in Chandigarh of a nationwide day by day. He and his girlfriend, Geetan (later his spouse), had simply graduated from Panjab University and utilized for jobs as sub-editors. They each scored excessive within the written check. At the interview, I detected a contact of conceitedness that might later change into so outstanding in his subsequent profession. Nevertheless, he acquired the job, although I knew he wouldn’t keep lengthy. Chandigarh was too small an enviornment for his hovering ambition. Sure sufficient, he moved to Delhi after which swiftly upwards in his profession, till he determined to be his personal man and arrange the Tehelka web site. But after the ‘Operation West End’ sting, the knives of the massively embarrassed BJP had been out for him. Much later, allegations of rape had been levelled towards him by a junior colleague in Goa. Since then, he has been arrested, launched on bail by the Supreme Court, and is presently going through trial.

Tejpal was the primary particular person to publish Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, which went on win the distinguished Booker Prize, and he has himself written two critically acclaimed novels, The Alchemy of Desire and The Story of My Assassins (on which the present, in style Paatal Lok web-series relies).

It is a completely totally different and unhappy story for the equally gifted Jaya Jaitly. It is a large irony that these two antagonists are the place they’re now.

— The author is a veteran journalist

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