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The truth beyond the Punch & Judy shows

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It’s uncanny how each time a VIP — or, for that matter, a friend of a VIP — is suspected of any wrongdoing in this country, instead of the matter being cleared up by a process of critical inquiry, it enters a whirlpool of political chicanery. The most startling aspect is that we, as a nation, have become completely blasé about such digressions, to the point of believing that it is entirely natural for any higher-up entity suspected of hanky-panky to defend his case by simply stating that there is a political vendetta being carried out against him. The response to the Supreme Court order of a preliminary inquiry by the CBI into allegations of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income has also been along these lines. Whether the public interest litigation against Mr Yadav and his family has been filed by someone who is connected to the Congress should be besides the point. In the same manner that one cannot write off, say, the acquaintance of the Congress president and absconding Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi’s guilt simply because the Opposition parties have launched a campaign against him and the Congress.

At the same time, it would be wrong to assume that an accusation alone leads to guilt — even if the accused makes efforts to make the inquiry difficult. A suspect running from the law does not automatically seal his guilt — he only enhances the notion that he may be guilty. So, Samajwadi Party general secretary Ram Gopal Yadav, rushing in to defend the UP chief minister and the SP chief is not wrong when he said that the apex court had not passed any judgment in the disproportionate assets case and that “a wrong interpretation” of the ruling would amount to contempt of court. But where Mulayam Singh Yadav is making it easier for “a wrong interpretation” of the ruling to be bandied around is in his attempt to squarely blame oppositional forces — the central government and, by his reckoning, the CBI — of being mala fide forces bent on ruining him by hook or by crook. Ironically, it is the same logic that is being used — less blatantly — by the Centre while defending its apparent lackadaisical approach to get to the bottom of the Quattrocchi-Bofors case.

And it is getting to the bottom of the matter that is, as usual, becoming the casualty in such ‘political-forces-are-trying-to-malign-us’ games. Why can’t there be an objective inquiry — and the CBI need not be maligned by the SP as a ‘tool’ used by the Centre each time the party finds it useful to do so — to find the truth of the accusations. After all, that alone would clear the names of those who insist that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing — whether they are bigwigs associated with this party or that. Or does the nation deserve to be kept in the dark and made to watch a Punch and Judy show that does nothing to clear the air of accusations and counter-accusations?