What did the Tehelka team secretly film?
Tehelka.com reporters claiming to be agents of an arms firm, did a sting operation to expose corruption in defence deals. In the process, they interacted with various politicians military officers. Among the politicians they met were Bangaru Laxman and Jaya Jaitly, the then presidents of the BJP and Samata Party, respectively.
The undercover reporters met Jaitly at the then defence minister George Fernandes's residence. Jaya allegedly accepted a packet of money to recommend their product to the “Sahib's office”. Fellow leader Gopal Pacherwal took the money on camera and was asked to send it for a national council meeting of the party.
During their interaction with Laxman, the reporters claimed they were representing West End, ostensibly an organisation with interests in telecom, power, aviation and defence.
Laxman allegedly accepted money from them and talked about how the then National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra was used by the Prime Minister and the BJP to push their deals.
How did Jaitly defend herself?
Jaitly said she had accepted the money as political donation and clearly told the “businessmen” that she “would help them out, provided it was not against national interest”. She later claimed the tapes were doctored, that she had never taken any money and that the Tehelka journalists had approached her as electronic rather than arms dealers.
How did the sting operation affect the NDA government?
Laxman was forced to resign from his party post. Fernandes's resignation was not accepted and former Samta Party president Jaya Jaitly was actually nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
What were the findings of the Venkatswami Commission that examined the Tehelka tapes?
It ruled that the tapes were genuine and forced Jaitly to admit that she had indeed accepted a packet from the “decoy businessmen”. She then denied knowledge about the contents of the packet, claiming that she had thought it contained sweets.