Immediately after the Tehelka scandal broke, this column had raised questions about the expose that remain unanswered. They were based on statements made by the Tehelka team members themselves. Some of the old questions are worth recalling. Some new ones are worth asking.
How could the home minister be ignorant of the Tehelka enterprise when IB officials were questioning Tehelka team members for six months while they visited army officers?
Why weren't the tapes with a conversation L.K. Advani had with an Israeli firm made public? When one Tehelka member blurted this out, Tarun Tejpal hastily wrote to Advani assuring him that nothing would come out! Now Advani's ministry prevaricates about whether a case can be made out against Tehelka. Does something smell rotten here?
Why did two of the men, most voluble and accusatory of George Fernandes and Brajesh Mishra, repeat a dialogue with Aniruddha Bahal which they had already made with Mathew Samuel? Bahal taped them. Were they rehearsing and recording an approved script? What faith can be placed on their taped conversation after the fact that one of them, when legally challenged, publicly admitted that he had lied?
What credence can be placed on Tehelka's professional standards after it was proved in court—regarding one of its earlier reports—that it had falsely maligned a railway official? Last week, Tehelka had to apologise for making false accusations against an Assam Congressman!
Does the sound and image on the tapes match at all times? The questions can be multiplied.
Now emerges the fact that Tehelka used prostitutes. Need one waste more words on this sordid exercise? Or on the galaxy of print and TV journalists, including Kuldip Nayar and Arun Shourie, who went gaga over this pathetic apology for investigative journalism?
Tejpal has defended his sleazy methods. He has claimed they were used in the "national interest." He wanted to tell the public that the system was corrupt.
Gee whiz! We never knew that!
It is doubtful if the law will be able to nail a single politician on the basis of the "evidence" Tehelka has unearthed. But Tehelka has succeeded in diverting attention from the Ayodhya case and the shocking financial scams. Rebutting speculation about a conspiracy behind his sting operation, Tejpal said his intentions were "honourable and straight".
Tsk-tsk! Somebody should have told him. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Means justify the end,
Rules are so easy to bend,
So fire away in the dark,
You are bound to hit some mark!