In search of an unsullied leader

It has begun! Everyone is talking about the recent disclosures and the subsequent denunciation of what many scribes call “Harshad Mehta’’s revelation” and the need for a “clean” person to lead the country.

At a recent cocktail party in the nation’s Capital, the topic for the night was the Big Bull’’s charges and the response to them. As the beautiful people mixed around, the setting, as an ethic re-creation of a village—at great expense, of course —in the midst of the lush green lawns of a bungalow in the city which has seen many an empire collapse and numerable regimes change.

“”This is nothing but a conspiracy to defame the Prime Minister and destabilise the nation,”” said a Delhi-based Congressman in clipped, public school English. He was dressed the regulation white kurta-pyjama and affected a rustic air. “”What is an affidavit? I give no credence to whatever is sworn to be true in an affidavit.””

“You ought to know. You have sworn to be resident of every constituency you have contested from, though you have never lived anywhere but on the steps of Congress Bhavan in Delhi,”” muttered an honourable BJP Member of Parliament.

Aloud he said: “”What I am worried about is the erosion of morality in our political system. The Prime Minister has not given any credible answer to Harshad’’s changes. He must come clean or resign.””

“Neither has Metha substantiated his allegation,”” restored the Congressman. “”The manner in which he is pointing his finger at everyone is so much like the anecdote of a dancing girl who used to blackmail her young patrons by saying: ‘’Shall I say it.’’ She would get a ‘tip’ every time she whispered this into a young man’’s ear. This carried in till they all got together and decided to call her bluff. When they confronted her, what she said was: ‘’Huzoor, all I wanted to say was aadab’’.””

“”What you are saying that since everyone is tainted, they are all liable to be blackmailed,”” said the BJP man. “”It is time we brought in a political party which is disciplined and is dedicated to the greater glory of the nation.””

““You mean Hindutva,”” the Congressman retorted. “”Your party has a record of stirring up sectarian trouble all over the country and now you want the people to give you power? Only the Congress can lead the nation, as it has for so many decades since Independence.’”

“”The basic issue is finding someone who is totally above board”,” butted in an NRI who looked rather incongruous in an olive green Brooks Brother summer suit.

“”You know, it reminds me of a story I heard on Albuquerque. An old-fashion multi-millionaire wanted to do his bit to stem the tide of immorality sweeping across the American continent. He declared that he would give $ 20,000 towards the education of any high school graduate who could prove that she was a virgin.”

“”A typically American approach,”” muttered the Congressman. “”Trying to buy everything, including morality. What a ridiculous idea.””

“”At least the man had his heart in the right place,”” said the BJP MP. ““We have to make sure that the focus is kept on the traditional value system. What happened after that? What was the response like?””

““It was a bit sad, really. Not a single girl could claim the money,”” replied the NRI.

By this time the hostess was in a flap since this discussion was hogging too much attention and the ghazal singer were scheduled to perform in a little while. ““Now, now. Do try see life beyond politics,”” she intervened, trying to change the topic.

“”Do you know that the Buddhists believe that their lamas are born again as little children? They find such infants and make them lamas. It is quite cute, really, the little kids behaving so solemnly!””

“”This gives me an idea. Let us find a child and make him our leader. Then no one can claim that they met him or bribed him, or anything like that. His record will be absolutely clean,”” the Congress leader declared.

“”But who will govern the nation,”” asked the NRI.

“”Who do you think will? These very persons. And you know even if the kid were to do it, there would not be any discernible difference,”” pronounced an exasperated academician, who had suffered the entire exchange in silence.

by Roopinder Singh,  June 25, 1993

For those who came in late, Wikipedia tell us that Harshad Shantilal Mehta was a stockbroker. He was charged with many financial crimes that took place in 1992. Of the 27 criminal charges brought against him, he was only convicted of one, before his death at age 48 in 2001. He said that he paid Rs 1 crore to Narasimha Rao, as donation to the party, for getting him off the scandal case.