The Shanti Bhushan CD controversy is dominating the Indian political scene these days—and getting ugly. Bhushan is a former law minister who’s a close associate of prominent social activist Anna Hazare and presently the co-chairperson of the Lokpal Bill draft panel. The audio CD in question reportedly contains recorded conversations between Bhushan, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav and former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh. And one conversation allegedly has Bhushan talking to Yadav and Amar Singh about ‘fixing’ a judge for almost $1 million.
A mercurial politician, Amar Singh has reacted rather surprisingly and dramatically to his implication in the alleged conversation by first announcing that the recordings have been doctored. ‘I verily believe that the CDs not only contain illegally tapped conversations but..the same have been tampered, morphed and edited in a manner to bring disrepute to Shri Mulayam Singh Yadav and I.’ he stated publicly early this week. Singh then filed a police complaint against Shanti Bhushan himself, as well as Bhushan's son Prashant, for making the ‘doctored’ CDs public despite a ban by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile Shanti Bhushan actually went to the Supreme Court to file contempt of court charges against Singh. The Samajwadi Party too has joined issue by coming to Shanti Bhushan’s defense, stating he never had a conversation with Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Prashant Bhushan has claimed his father lodged a report with the police as soon as he came to know about the CD and denied that the elder Bhushan ever had tripartite conversations with Yadav and Amar Singh. Prashant has also dubbed the CD as ‘fabricated.’
Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram has said the Delhi police will consult at least two forensic labs to verify the audio and the authenticity of the CD. Chidambaram stated on April 19: ‘This is a season of allegations and I am glad that there is a growing recognition that reputations are also important. I have been assured by Delhi Police that free, fair and thorough investigations will happen into the Shanti Bhushan CD case.’
It’s said that Indians and their media love a messy scandal. But it seems this one may be getting out of hand and taking attention again away from the real issues now—the problem of widespread corruption in India and how to fix it.