Waving cash in the House is about free speech, not shame, says Tehelka columnist

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New Delhi, Aug.4 : In an article for the Tehelka magazine, Inderjit Badhwar has said that last month's vote of confidence in Parliament and its culmination in the waving of bundles of cash by a few BJP MPs represented the best traditions of Indian democracy.

To say that my heart leapt up when I beheld the moolah in the well of the House at the end of the trust vote would be an understatement. It soared out of my mouth and fibrillated with atrial joy at the thought that the muckraker had once again been vindicated," says Badhwar.

The sinners had confessed in public. Confession's karmic consequence should be redemption. For truly, was this not a display of Indian democracy at its raucous best? A symbolic high point in the annals of free speech and expression?, he adds.

Where else would such a public melodramatic manifestation of shame be permissible? Within the Central Committees of the Indian Communist groupings? Within China's Hall of the People? Within the Supreme Soviet of the USSR? On the streets of Myanmar? In Mugabe's Zimbabwe? Can't you hear the bolts clicking on the guns of the firing squads?

He further goes on to say that "In India, we heard the clucking of tongues, mounting to a crescendo like the kettledrums of doom in Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Cluck, cluck, went Brinda Karat: "A blight on Indian Democracy." Cluck, cluck, Harish Salve: "The saddest day for Indian democracy." Cluck, cluck, come all ye TV instapundits and anchors: "The whole world is watching this sordid spectacle." Cluck, cluck."

"So what if the whole world was watching? A splendid drama needs a great audience. My heart sinks at the protestations of these sanctimonious slaves of hypocrisy," he says.

He pertinently asks where were these lawmakers when "Tehelka was being hounded and persecuted when it hit pay dirt while prospecting the nether regions of India's politics?"

"This session of Parliament has risen to historical greatness. It has done Indian Democracy a favour in providing a mirror to our image. All of us need a stage. But for maximum dramaturgical impact - we need celebrities, kings, warriors, the powerful as heroes. Or no one will watch and no lessons will be learned," he says.

Now, with an election around the corner in the world's largest democracy, India's Parliament provided the stage - kings, princes, bigots, braggarts, knaves, orators, conspirators and all - for politicians to come out of the closet. It's a liberating moment for all of us. Glory, Hallelujah, he concludes.

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