This shadow of exception

Kejriwal is hitting below the belt", complained the Congress spokesperson P.C. Chacko during a TV debate on l'affaire Vadra-DLF. He was obviously under stress to perform and a little nervous, like most Congressmen in public this week, but his hurt seemed genuine. He sounded really affronted by the violation of a laxman rekha.

Indeed, Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal have violated a code of silence observed in Delhi's corridors of power. The shock is not in the revelation itself. Robert Vadra's weakness for property has been a staple of Delhi's gossip circles for quite some time. No self-respecting journalist is surprised at what has been disclosed. Nor is the evidence a particularly stunning piece of investigation. Almost all the documents used are drawn from public sources. The BJP president has acknowledged seeing these documents some time ago. Everyone who mattered knew about it, yet it was understood that this is not for public consumption. During Atal Bihari Vajpayee's regime, everyone knew about Ranjan Bhattacharya's role in the PMO or the late Pramod Mahajan's multi-faceted adventures. Yet neither the media nor the then opposition spoke about it in public. A rank outsider has shattered this carefully cultivated silence.

Stepping out from darkness into sunlight can be hard. So it has been for our media. It is not just the Congressmen who are more embarrassed than their first family, a section of the media too is visibly uneasy. This unease results in blanking out this news or shooting the messengers or an over-eagerness to protect the accused. Used to treating the Dynasty as an exception, our public debates start demanding exceptional standards for this trial. Congressmen who regularly hurled accusations of corruption against all non-Congress governments now demand that corruption must be proven in a court of law before it is spoken about in public. Media begins to demand standards of proof that it never set for itself.

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