By T S Sudhir
He was felled by an undercover sting operation, carried out by Tehelka in 2001. Twelve years later, Bangaru Laxman cannot even stand and needs to move around on a wheelchair. Forced to resign as BJP president and for all practical purposes, sent into political exile, Laxman who suffers from a neurological problem was hospitalised till yesterday and has to spend considerable time everyday with the physiotherapist.
Laxman however, has been smiling from ear to ear for the last ten days. The reason is that his nemesis, Tarun Tejpal has – to borrow Laxman’s expression – “fallen into the ditch he dug for several people including me”. Laxman has been following every move in the Tejpal episode with great interest and asks why this man, celebrated as a man who practised `journalism of courage’ is running away like a coward from the law of the land.
“He claimed to stand on a moral pedestal, higher than others but look how he has stooped down. His moral bubble has burst. He tried to blackmail people to make money,” says Laxman about Tejpal. Though the mess that Tejpal is currently in, does not take away from the sting his team conducted on Laxman, the BJP leader insists he stands vindicated.
“That is because he has been exposed. And when he has been exposed, he goes back to 2001 and claims the BJP is taking revenge on him for conducting sting on Bangaru Laxman. I want to ask him if the BJP asked him to go to Goa to hold a Thinkfest and commit this crime,” asks Laxman with indignation.
The hurt that thanks to Tejpal, the 74-year-old was shunned by the BJP, seen as an embarrassment, stays with Laxman. “Ab Tejpal ka pardafaash ho gaya hai (Now the mask is off Tejpal). Life has come full circle,” he says, adding the Congress regime transferred the case to the CBI so that it played its part in getting him convicted. Laxman was convicted and sentenced to four years in jail in April 2012 and got bail in October 2012.
Laxman in the last twelve years has been a regular on TV channel discussions, whenever there is talk of political corruption. Laxman has stoutly defended his case but the power of the images of him accepting a bundle of notes were too strong. Besides relishing the fact that those who live by hidden camera die by the CCTV, he can draw comfort in the fact that Tejpal will most likely spend more time behind bars than he did.
(Follow T S Sudhir on Twitter @Iamtssudhir)