Flipping through the newspaper the other day, a report caught my eye, for reasons far too obvious. It was titled “Former Israeli president jailed for rape”. The article detailed how the former President, Moshe Katsav, harassed his women colleagues sexually, including rape, while serving in different capacities, and how he was forced to step down when matters came to a head that his continuance in the office of Israel Presidency was untenable. And yes, he did, all along the while maintain his innocence, to no avail. The irony was that he had to begin his jail term not long after his 66th birthday. A fact one needs to highlight here (bold, italicise and underline) is that he was forced to step down from office to face trial, and get convicted eventually.
Contrast this with some events that happened in our country:
a) A woman went missing in Rajasthan; Bhanwari Devi to the uninitiated. Although the needle of suspicion pointed to senior Congress minister Mahipal Maderna, the government pretended that nothing had happened and put on a false demeanour. It emerged that the minister was indeed in a relationship with the woman, who was actually a nurse and married to someone else. As if by magic, the angle that Devi was having a CD that had a video of the minister in a compromising position with her popped up. Even filing a CBI charge-sheet against the minister and directives from the High Court that he be prosecuted weren’t enough to budge the government to drop the tainted minister. The minister was dropped eventually, but only after widespread public resentment, not to mention the salacious, in-depth media coverage of the issue.
b) Closer home in Karnataka, a minister of the BJP Cabinet, M P Renukacharya, was accused of raping a nurse (what’s it with politicians and nurses?), and threatening her to pose for some “intimate” photographs. The lady had the presence of mind to save a copy of the photos for her, some of which surfaced in the media, when the nurse, after attempting suicide, claimed that she released the photographs only to prove her innocence. She was also claimed to have been the minister’s lover and was discarded after he used her sexually. Unsurprisingly, the minister vehemently denied the charges and accused the woman of morphing the images. Again, as if by magic, files relating to the case disappeared from the women’s commission, where the nurse had lodged a complaint. The official version is, that she “withdrew” her complaint. Renukacharya continues to be in the government, as the excise minister.
c) Then there is the instance of another Karnataka BJP minister, Hartal Halappa, who was accused of raping his friend’s wife. The template of a rejoinder that the charges were being framed only to malign his political career came from the minister. Even after a DNA test revealed that traces of his semen were found in items of clothing belonging to the minister and the victim. The minister then mysteriously developed a health complication, a heart ailment. It must have been heartbreak indeed for his cavorting to come into public view. This was followed by the charade of his transfer to a Bangalore hospital that he was suffering from a medical emergency. The case lodged against him, needless to say, died a natural death.
d) Let us not forget the big-daddy of sugar daddies of our politicians, N D Tiwari, a three-time chief minister who was not only said to have maintained a concubine for a long period of time (not a crime in itself, as long as the partners are consenting) and fathered children with her, but also denied doing so, despite his “progeny” claiming that Tiwari was his father. The paternity case was rejected in court; however, Tiwari chose to bring disrepute to democracy again – this time through the office of the Governor. A clipping of him romping with three young women surfaced in the media. The owner of the media house that broadcast the clipping said that it was not doctored and that he was prepared to slug it out in the courts; a woman who arranged the sting said that Tiwari had reneged on his promise of offering lucrative government contracts in exchange for the sexual favours. Tiwari, though, had the politician’s almighty rejoinder ready with him: “I am innocent, the charges are being heaped against me only to tarnish my reputation.” He has not faced prosecution since.
Perhaps, we need to show more spine while convicting our politicians. Surely they are not the Gods, are they?