Not just talk
The Radia tapes inquiry has taken a decidedly more serious turn. Despite the seemingly incriminating nature of the conversations, some of those caught on tape continue to maintain they have done nothing wrong, that the chit-chat was precisely that, chit-chat. Now, with the Supreme Court observing last week that prima facie the material on the tapes had “criminality”, we are in much deeper waters.
In the past fortnight, the Supreme Court has repeatedly pulled up the CBI for not properly investigating criminality which is obvious to the honourable judges. They have gone so far as identifying 16—I repeat, 16—specific instances of criminality. The CBI is currently probing these instances—hopefully with some rigour and haste.
Till date, except for a passing mention in my autobiography, I have refrained from commenting on the tapes. My responsibility, I felt, ended with bringing them to public attention, since I saw a compelling public interest in publishing the recordings. Moreover, some of those whose voices are heard were friends or, at the very least, acquaintances (one was a relative). Therefore, I thought it would be presumptuous on my part to in any way lecture them on ethics or morality. It was in this spirit that I politely refused an invitation from Prannoy Roy to quiz Barkha Dutt on TV on the rights and wrongs of what she had done. Instead, I gave her 850 words in the next issue of Outlook to make her case. I gave Vir Sanghvi two full pages to do the same at a time of his choosing, an option he exercised.
With the Supreme Court’s recent pronouncements, I and Outlook have been completely vindicated. The public interest I have been referring to includes charges of felony.
For even those who don’t light midnight candles at Wagah, the present developments in Pakistan are depressing, but entirely predictable. It has happened so often before. Deja vu has lost its sting. Our hopes are lifted, the right noises seem to be coming out of Islamabad, dates for substantive talks are fixed...and then bang, the whole process falls apart. Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif must be regretting the rash of statements he made just before and just after assuming office about the urgent need to rapidly move forward with normalising relations. Valour took over from discretion as he dismissed any challenge from the army to frustrate his quest for peace. He told us he was the boss.
Now we know who is the boss. The generals have hit back, leaving Sharif looking both naive and silly. There are those in this country who believe we are stupid to take Sharif at face value. According to them, the prime minister and the army are in this together. I think that may be a misreading of Sharif’s intentions. Being a businessman first and politician second, and having seen the havoc the generals are capable of, he might genuinely want to take on the army. Therefore, India has no option but to put all its eggs in Sharif’s basket. He remains our best bet in Islamabad. Whether Manmohan Singh should have a meeting on the sidelines of the UN in New York with his Pakistani counterpart next month is problematic. Domestic public opinion is enraged, not just the saffron hawks. Perhaps it would be wise to call this one off.
I met a friend at a dinner party. He is no tycoon, and he is just over five feet tall. In his hand was an unlit cigar almost as long as he was. I have not seen a longer cigar in my life. He had some difficulty holding it in his hand. At some appropriate moment he said he would light it. It looked like his weapon for mass destruction.
Otherwise, cigars, all the rage a decade ago, have fallen out of fashion, except for those who don’t smoke them to make a status statement. I gave up cigars after I saw a travel agent with a big fat cheroot in his mouth. My cigar-smoking was restricted to Sunday mornings, especially on those Sundays when we had produced a good issue of Outlook. Along with a glass of beer and an exclusive story, it tasted great. Occasionally, along with a small cognac and good company, a cigar can enhance amiability. Cigar-smoking at parties now seems pretentious and a sign of social insecurity. I gave it up on realising I didn’t need it. And it made me look idiotic.
I am reading Manoj and Babli: A Hate Story, by our former Chandigarh correspondent Chander Suta Dogra, now with The Hindu. Much of the work researching honour killings was done by Chander when she was with Outlook. So I am doubly pleased at its commercial and critical success. I recommend it strongly.
...a publisher asked if he could reissue my first book, Bombay, A Private View. I said no.
Vinod Mehta is editorial chairman, Outlook, and its founding editor-in-chief; E-mail your diarist: vmehta AT outlookindia.com
This refers to Vinod Mehta’s Delhi Diary (Aug 26). Releasing the Radia tapes was a signal service, for which Outlook deserves our compliments. It’s incredible that the 16 instances of wrongdoing had been under wraps for so long. Could there be a more telling commentary on the iron grip of the ruling party over its pet parrot, the CBI?
N.S. Rajan, Bangalore
So Mr Mehta refused the republishing of his first book, Bombay, A Private View. Thank god for small mercies.
Sharat Chandra, Kalpakkam
Around 78 per cent of Indians earn more than Rs 33 a day. Truly a rich nation! And Mr Mehta, please do release a reprint of Bombay. Some of us will really appreciate it.
Deepika Sekar, on e-mail
24 D Ramki
The question should be : when will unending worshipping of Modi by his puppies, fall out of fashion?
The day these two things stop, the rozi-roti will stop. One does not close one's kitchen, in trying to be HONEST!
VM >> Otherwise, cigars, all the rage a decade ago, have fallen out of fashion, except for those who don’t smoke them to make a status statement
When is non stop worshipping of Saint Sonia and her dynasty going to fall out of fashion?
When is unending hatred of Narendra Modi and BJP going to fall out of fashion?
Where was the need to ---
Please read 22/D-163 as above
Where was to say a word after you posted links to about 127 Radia Tapes ??
You had said enough by that one single act .
MANY MANY THANKS !!!
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