The most endearing trait of the Indian voter is his complete lack of expectations from the elected representatives.His tolerance for their perceived shenanigans is also unmatchable. It is perhaps this innate humility of the common man that shames some politicians into performing token public service and keeps their tomfoolery under check.
Netas might bicker on policy issues and the consequent loss to the public exchequer, but when it comes to petty personal corruption, they generally follow the Gentlemen’s Agreement.
This Pax Indiana that exists between the opposition, the ruler and the ruled was disturbed when the “Leader of the Opposition’s(LOOP)” leveled some bizarre accusations against the beloved Chief minister(CM) of Karnataka.
The LOOP alleged that the new watch adorning the wrist of the CM was worth Rupees 5 million.He further questioned if the CM had completely renounced his socialist past and embraced the feudal tendencies behoving his status as the Head of the State. The CM ridiculed the LOOP’s claims and offered to sell him the watch for Rs.1 million, an offer which the latter promptly refused, arguing he didn’t deal in second-hand goods.
The LOOP further embarrassed the CM by pegging the actual price of the “diamond -studded” Hublot time machine at more than Rs.7 million. An unfazed CM responded by calling the Loop a cheater, a liar and a fraud whose words should not be taken seriously.
The CM further tried to salvage his position by declaring the watch in question to be a gift, to which the Loop inquired if it had been declared ‘as such’ in the annual Lokayukta Report and in the Income Tax Return.The Loop demanded the CM name his benefactor if there was one, and not take the state for a ride.
The political cauldron kept simmering for a week before the CM finally revealed that a Dubai-based NRI Surgeon was the ‘friend’ in question, who had gifted him the Hublot .The CM promised to pay Customs Duty on this costly watch, as another Opposition party has written to the Enforcement Directorate to investigate the whole matter.The CM explained that since the watch was a personal gift from an old friend , he could not have refused it, and since the gift was made only in July 2015, he would declare it in the Lokayukta report and the IT returns for the current year. He also expressed his intention to give the watch away as State Asset, and keep it in the Cabinet Hall. The ever-confident CM remained unfazed ,and seemed firmly in his saddle despite virtually admitting that several laws might have been contravened in the whole process.
The matter seemed as good as over ,when the Loop pulled a rabbit out of the CM’s Hublot ,giving a curious new twist to the tale. Dubbing the watch as ‘stolen’ ,the Loop alleged that it was actually gifted to the CM by a Police Officer who had tried to ingratiate himself to the Leader of the State through this act. The Loop also claimed that three watches were stolen from the home of a Capital-based Doctor, and the one gracing the hand of the CM is one of them. The said doctor, after vanishing from the public scene for a day, reappeared and accepted that indeed three of his precious watches were stolen last year, but that the watch in question did not belong to him, although one of the watches that was stolen was of the same model.
The Loop is now demanding a CBI inquiry. Finding himself on slippery ground,the CM has gone on the offensive and raised the bogey of victimization, arguing that his backward class origins rankle in the eyes of his detractors.
This political drama is far from over.The case of the CMs watch might never be solved, or even investigated, but it has deepened the existing political faultlines, and has raised some very crucial legal and ethical questions,the answers to which might be lost in the din and bustle of petty interest. The common man like me is more interested in knowing why would anyone gift, or buy such a costly watch, in the first place !
Can the CM now shout from the rooftop that there is no corruption in and under his Watch ?
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