No, I am not in the same category as Banquo’s ghost or Caesar’s ghost, nor am I the title of an unfinished Shakespeare play...
No, I am not in the same category as Banquo’s ghost or Caesar’s ghost, nor am I the title of an unfinished Shakespeare play. I am very much a brand new, original ghost of the Bofors scandal. Of course, I should have been buried or transported to the ghost world but was told by the president of the International Ghost Group (IGG) that I would not be allowed to rest in peace unless I stopped making news periodically. My application to Ghost World was almost approved when the latest so-called revelations came out. So here I am wandering in the wilderness and resuming my secret diary.
Normally, only the ghosts of dissatisfied lovers wander around as I do. But I belong to the political category, and on my case are dozens of people and institutions which have confused people over the decades. One of them is a major English daily which used to publish news headlines as if reporting events from Indian epics. Suddenly this daily, which never ever carried stories about local corruption deals involving the DMK, AIADMK etc, began to fill its pages with millions of words from Geneva, Stockholm and other European capitals about the ‘Bofors deal’. It flaunted an ace ‘investigative reporter’, Chitra Subramaniam, though no one knew who she was. We began to hear of payments made to ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ to ‘X’ and something called ‘letter rogatory’. As the verbal bombardment continued, millions of readers felt they were missing something because they could not understand what in the hell it was all about. Unlike Watergate, which could be understood by everyone, Bofors was about something no one could follow. That was why there was no Watergate Ghost.
Meanwhile, Indian Express, which started the journalism of courage, displayed a lot of it in publishing columns of news on the scandal. Everyone was certain of one thing, there was an Italian hand though it wasn’t Sophia Loren’s or Gina Lollobrigida’s but some Kottarochi’s (ghosts are poor at spelling). He was the Italian Scarlet Pimpernel, appearing and disappearing with impunity. With the Supreme Court declaring there was nothing in the scandal, I was sure my days as a floating ghost were over. But there was yet another ‘revelation’, this time by Sten Lindstrom, ex-Swedish police chief, who handled the Bofors case, turned whistle-blower and told Chitra Subramaniam-Duella (the same investigative reporter, now with an added Duella) that while Rajiv Gandhi did not receive any bribe he did not take any action against those involved in the deal. Why he waited 26 years to make this staggering revelation, no one knew. The Indian media, as usual, lapped it all up. Well, if you ask me if it was the sordid history of the Swedish government and police they wanted, they would have done better to read up on Stieg Larsson’s Dragon Tattoo girl than believe everything told by Sten Lindstrom.
The Mumbai-based satirist is the creator of ‘Trishanku’; E-mail your secret diarist: vgangadhar70 AT gmail.com