At a time when everything from bodily fluids to sex CDs is part of political discourse,former Madhya Pradesh minister Himmat Kothari may have found a way to stem the tide though for how long could be disputed.
The powerful BJP leader,who once held the Home portfolio,had gone to court against his rival for making allegations of corruption against him and for lowering his image in the eyes of the voters,which he said was instrumental in him losing the 2008 polls. Recently,the HC ruled in Kotharis favour,saying he had proved his case conclusively. So despite the fact that the rival candidate,Independent Paras Saklecha,had defeated Kothari by over 31,000 votes,the court annulled Saklechas election. Saklecha has now moved the SC against the court order.
While Indian politics is rife with instances of rivals calling each other names,Kothari is among the few to have gone to court claiming it cost him an election. Even one of MPs more famous cases,of the BJP accusing outgoing CM Digvijaya Singh in 2003 of indulging in corruption and the latter hauling Uma Bharti to court for defamation,is still to result in a verdict. Plus,it is not an election petition.
Since the order became known,the political class in MP has been in a pensive mood. They protest that their freedom of spe-ech will be compromised,and question the courts jurisdiction in monitoring its content. Activists and advocates,on the other hand,are rubbing their hands in glee,saying the verdict will fo-rce candidates to refrain from levelling baseless allegations.
However,if it doesnt,and it may well not,it is doubtful if countermanding elections remains the best of answers.
And then there is the question of the likely delay in any judicial verdict. Kothari,for example,moved the court in 2009,and the order in his favour has come just months before the next round of Assembly elections. If Kothari isnt complaining,its because not only has the case got him unexpected limelight but more or less guaranteed a win against old rival Saklecha.
Milind is senior assistant editor based in Bhopal