They created a moral bubble, now their leader is exposed: Bangaru Laxman

Bangaru Laxman

When Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal sought anticipatory bail earlier this week after a colleague accused him of sexual assault, former BJP president Bangaru Laxman was prominently mentioned in his petition.

Laxman was the target of Tehelka's first sting operation in 2001 and was shown accepting a wad of currency from journalists posing as arms dealers, resulting in a major loss of face for the then NDA government.

They created a moral bubble, now their leader stands exposed, says Tehelka's first victim Bangaru.

The bail plea said it was being alluded by some that Goa's BJP government was pursuing the alleged rape case as "payback".

Twelve years on, Laxman is confined to a wheelchair due to poor health but has been watching the news keenly since Tejpal hit the headlines.

"I just heard that Tejpal wants time until Saturday to face the Goa police. If he is the courageous journalist who stood for some morals, what is he afraid of?" Laxman, now 73 years old, asked when The Indian Express met him Thursday at his modest flat in the MLA-MP Colony in Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad.

"I think he and Tehelka wanted to clean the system, root out corruption. They put themselves on a high moral ground. But they themselves are not above it. It took a brave woman colleague of Tejpal to expose it,'' he said.

Laxman had to pay a huge price after the sting. He had to step down as party president, was banished into the political wilderness and eventually tried, convicted and sentenced to four years in jail in April 2012. He challenged the conviction and was freed on bail in October 2012.

Laxman has been advised complete rest by his doctors. He reads a little and occasionally flips through news TV channels but since Tejpal became the news, Laxman has been lapping up all details of the case from a newspaper and on TV.

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