Sauce for goose, but not so for gander?

Geese and Ganders should forgive me for dragging their fair name into this unseemly controversy. We have no choice, for their names have been immortalised to represent for posterity an elementary principle of natural justice. No one knows whether those eminent birds of peace ever quarreled for their rightful share of sauce from the other sex or if it was just women’s lib at its infancy.

Yet it does reflect a better sense of equity and fairplay even among those creatures credited with just five senses than those endowed with one sense more. We are inclined to think that the sixth sense of which we humans are so proud of should actually refer to ‘nonsense’, which we parade unabashedly day in and day out.

Legal luminaries whose escapades in the court are legendary can reasonably be assumed to possess a few extra senses than the ordinary mortals, who are therefore condemned to become their clients. The first thing these lawyers point out to their tormented clients is the fact that ignorance of law is no excuse and that they should have been a little more careful.

But then these men have no qualms about flouting the law with impunity and their haughtiness is owing to the fact that if they cannot extricate themselves they have no business to remain in business. So when one such reputed lawyer himself does something which is gross violation of the law of the land one can only assume that it was his intention to cock a snook at justice it at justice itself, which he is under oath to safeguard.

If such audacity is the hallmark of his legal career, one can imagine what this bull(y) can do in a China shop, which is what today’s politicians and politics and resemble. For them all the world is a court and they are the undisputed judge of all they survey. And true to their wont, their acid tongue is all and sundry, including the very hand that has been sustaining its survival.

It was quite natural for a man of Ram Jethmalani’s credentials to expect himself to be the automatic choice to head the Law Ministry. But it was also equally natural for a man of Ram Jethmalani’s credentials, given his irrepressible sense of indiscretion, to be opposed by his detractors who are well aware of his proclivities.

The frustration was bound to show, for men like Malani are not known to hide their pique for ever. But there are occasions when even such temperamental men have to eat crow, in view of the precarious state of their existence. At least, there political bosses should try and ensure that those mouths are kept closed, in the larger interest of the coalition and the nation

Neither has happened, and words which can never be recalled, keep falling out with alarming regularity and in a disturbing language, that defies both political sense and common sense. But then such a man certainly has a more honourable choice if he wishes to salvage his imaginary self-pride. He can quite first on his own and then explore ways of making a comeback without the help of the AIADMK, which takes us back to the fundamental question: Can goose and gander be treated differently?

This man Buta Singh has a history. And by no means a memorable or respectable one. Besides a plethora of corruption charges and tax violations, the latest feather in his turbans is the recent Supreme Court verdict attaching his name to the very eminent ranks of the insiders, in the JMM MPs bribery case. Of course, this particular case is unique in that the alleged acts were done to save the Congress government during the 1993 confidence vote.

But both these accused have since forfeited their claim to martyrdom, with the former PM having fallen from grace, and the former minister turning into a present minister in a different outfit by virtue of being just that ‘one’ crucial MP in a closely contested number game. But now stands out as a plain ‘brider’ and yet he finds no reason to resign voluntarily. Of course there is no law, remember vaguely some talk about propriety in public life and so on.

And the haste and eagerness with which Vajpayee accepted the resignation of Muthiah, did give one the impression that the PM was, after all, in favour of an equitable distribution of the available sauce among the geese and the ganders.

Then there is the inimitable Ramakrishna Hegde whose sneers and snides have not earned him any fans in the AIADMK. Though not as foulmouthed as his lawyer colleague, this man has an irritating knack of driving home and insult with maximum potency.

If, for Jayalalitha, Hegde stands out as the personification of male chauvinism, which she had fought all her life in what is essentially still a man’s world, she can neither be blamed for getting offended or provoked nor can she be accused of being a bit too sensitive.

Because that is truly the object of Hegde’s asides, which he promptly denies, thus adding a cynical touch to the misplaced sarcasm. And of course, he has a history too as the Rs 2.5 crore reported missing when he was at the helm are yet to be traced. Yet neither PM nor propriety have urged him to put in his papers.

But he wouldn’t do it for he knows he is not just one but three in that same afore mentioned numbers game. If ‘One’ stays put there is no reason why ‘Three’, which is three times one, should call it a day.

As the relentless mutual training is in effect only painting the nation black, it is quite evident that the PM is in a spot. With a virtual moral ultimatum staring him in the face, one wonders what tune this gentle poet will sing to extricate himself from this largely self created mess. Whatever the outcome, it certainly is going to be a close call, with a poet’s justice and poetic justice vying to get the better of each other.

And swearing–ins and swearing–outs are bound to become a very common sight in the days to come as skeletons keep tumbling out from one cupboard after another.

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Jawahar T R