The alleged sexual assault on a Tehlka reporter by its founder Tarun Tejpal, and widespread outrage against it, has pitted BJP against its arch rival Congress.
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday assured fair investigation in the case. His party, BJP, has reacted strongly against the allegations in contrast to Congress’ “soft response”.
Parrikar dismissed speculations that investigation against Tejpal would be a witch hunt just because Tehelka’s stories have consistently targeted BJP in the past.
In 2001, the Tehelka had caught the then BJP president Bangaru Laxman on camera accepting money for recommending a fictitious company West End International to the Indian Army for contracts on hand-held thermal imagers. In 2012, Laxman was convicted in the case.
Subsequently, Tehelka did a series of stories based on the sting operations that claimed the 2002 Gujarat anti-Muslim pogrom was possible because of the connivance of the state police and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Several accused in the riots cases had confessed to undercover Tehelka reporters to killing people.
Apparently giving an impression that he was not motivated by political reasons, Parrikar said, “I am not monitoring the case. In fact, I was briefed about the case by the police after the filing of the FIR."
He said he was not taking any updates from the investigating officer. The Goa chief minister also said he had told police not to be bogged down by any pressure, however, important the accused is.
The episode has occurred when assembly elections in five states are underway, with the BJP accusing the Congress of trying to protect Tejpal because of his close connections in the party.
“Just because the assailant has connections in the Congress party, the nation is deprived of the sage advice of P Chidambaram, the caustic comments of Kapil Sibal and the exaggerated tweets of Manish Tewari. Manish Tewari was in Goa recently, he discovered Hitler there. What a pity that he could not discover a serial rapist in Goa,” Arun Jaitley, Leader of Opposition, wrote in his blog on Friday.
The Congress has condemned the alleged assault and said action should be taken against anyone found guilty of such an offence, irrespective of one’s position.
“Be it anyone big or small, the demand for action remains the same,” Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal said.
“If black sheep are there in the four pillars of democracy, who are not common people but guide them, then it is a very serious issue. Corrective measures will have to be taken. All will have to come forward in this fight," Afzal said.
Tejpal did not respond to the text and email messages sent by the HT for his comments.