The cash-for-votes sting operation is getting murkier by the day. Conclusion on media speculation about official pressure on the TV channel that organized the sting not to telecast it would be premature. The channel spokesman had told the press earlier that because the allegations made on the tape were not verifiable it was not telecast. Instead the tape was handed over to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
The Speaker has appointed a Parliamentary committee to study the tape and submit its report by mid-August. Only after the tape becomes public will it be known whether the TV channel's decision not to telecast it was professional or politically motivated. But the episode is getting so murky that the truth seems to be disappearing in the fog. Confusion is compounded by a statement made by the BJP's general secretary.
Mukhtar Abas Naqvi, BJP general secretary and poll manager, made an extraordinary revelation to the media. He said he was so shocked by currency notes being waved in Parliament that he wrote a satirical film script based upon the incident. The script was so impressive that a Marathi film producer, Nitin Mawani, immediately bought it to launch the film. The producer moved with such speed and wizardry that just two days after the trust vote, shooting for the film, Bhaagab Bhaag, commenced in Kohlapur, Maharashtra. Naqvi told the media: 'It was not a lengthy script. The film producer wanted to complete the project within a month-and-a-half so that it could be released when the political climate is still hot.' In other words, the film will be relevant for the general election campaign.
If Naqvi's version is accurate the film script must have been completed in a couple of hours, the film producer contacted and the sale of the script effected through a lightning decision, some wizard of a film director assembled the camera crew and selected the film cast with unparalleled speed, and the shooting of the film started two days after the trust vote. One wonders if Satyajit Ray could have accomplished this. If this is true, clearly the political gain from Mr. Naqvi's exertions is dwarfed by literature's loss through his absence from authorship.
To be charitable one may make allowance for political license and exaggeration. When the BJP conceived of its sting operation plan it could have simultaneously planned the film too, and started work on it. If that is so, the mystery becomes even deeper. The film production could be timed with the BJP's moves. How could the moves of the victims of the sting fit into the same timetable of a preplanned operation? It could happen if the bribe-givers were fully colluding with the bribe-takers to enact the sting drama. Is that believable? This mystery needs to be cleared. The BJP surely owes the public an explanation.