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Theatre of the absurd

Theatre of the absurd

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 3, 2009
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/theatre-of-the-absurd/453568

Welcome to the theatre of the absurd: the plot so topsy-turvy, the actors so clumsy, that it's a scandal the theatre is open at all. To chronicle the play's three acts is to confuse the audience, but here goes anyway. Act 1: The CBI justifies a disproportionate assets case against Mulayam Singh Yadav; background score, a souring SP-Congress relationship in 2007. Act 2: The solicitor general, CBI's director of prosecution, and H.R. Bhardwaj's law ministry all justify withdrawing the case; background score, the post-nuclear deal SP-Congress flirtations. Act 3: In 2009, the CBI once again recommends to the Supreme Court that the case be pursued; background score, a seat-sharing dispute between the SP and the Congress in UP.

How do these acts even pass off for a coherent play? How do the actors change their lines with such ease? The first reason is passing the parcel. With no clear director to take responsibility, a flip-flopping plot is always someone else's fault. How else could Attorney General Milon Banerji direct the CBI to not appeal against a high court order quashing the Bofors case, then turn around and use that lack of appeal to justify cancelling a red corner alert against Bofors-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi? How else could the CBI get away with relying on its internal report on one occasion, and on a contradictory solicitor general's opinion on another?

The other reason why the theatre of the absurd has not closed down is the selective quoting of lines by actors. To hear Law Minister H.R. Bharadwaj justify his decision to quash the case against Mulayam Singh (Act 3) by quoting selectively from a Supreme Court order makes it sound as if the judiciary is complicit in this perfidy. It also underlines the growing phenomenon of politicians passing the buck on political hot potatoes - like Babri Masjid or unregularised building - on to the judiciary. The selective use of opinions and quotes helps clothe a nakedly political agenda in the garb of mundane institutional procedure. This newspaper went beyond the passed parcels and pruned opinions to expose the CBI dancing to its master's voice. This ultimately is the only recourse for a citizenry hoping to shut down the theatre of the absurd - check, verify, and then accuse.

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