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The tape released yesterday with a voice alleged to be that of Minister of Environment Raj Dayal – something he did not deny – is absolutely stomach-churning! Not that anyone is duped anymore by the wide gap between the sickening rhetoric of power-hungry ministers who do not miss any opportunity to present themselves as the self-appointed messiahs hell-bent on cleaning the country of corruption and the way some of them are shamelessly going about enriching themselves. 

After a minister borrowing money from a state bank to invest in gold and a few others not settling their car and hospital bills, we now have a minister of the republic haggling like a petty merchant – and I apologise here to all the merchants who may have felt insulted – to get money in exchange for delivering an environment impact assessment permit! Like a beggar with absolutely no decorum, he explains how he needs money to buy ‘colouring powder’ for Holi! Rs1 million! Holy sh…..!

Then he puts on his virtuous air and – while asking for a bribe – he finds it in him to brag about his virtues: “You know I am a man of honour (honour? Does he even know what he word means?). As soon as you have given me the money (read the bribe), the very next day, I will come and see you” and of course grant the requested permit.

When he was caught red-handed and was asked to step down, he still found the means to call a press conference. Well, not exactly a conference but a new and unique press exercise where journalists listen to Dayal doing what he does best: talk about Dayal, that is, dwelling on expressions all too familiar like “character assassination”, “a target on the hit list”, “destabilising the government” etc. etc. etc. And of course, “the truth will triumph”. As soon as that exercise was over, he refused to answer any of the journalists’ questions. Not even the simple one about whether the voice in the recording is his or not! Talk about the triumph of the truth!

Then followed the usual humbug that the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is doing its job independently! Just what do they take us for? Who believes that there is any independence left in the ICAC other than its name? No director, no ICAC parliamentary committee, not a shred of even seeming independence. 

The next step is for Dayal to join his colleagues on Facebook where some of them are busy fighting each other using unsubtle and puerile terms. Some sound so clever by quoting people who would turn in their graves if they knew who they were quoted by and others have discovered such insipid clichés that one wonders about their mental age! In the meantime, the insidious fight out there is rife and the smiles are but an indecent veil. 

The worst part of all this is that all these good people remain in the national assembly somehow and continue to draw their salaries and bide their time to earn their hefty pensions. Who wants a by-election? Perish the thought!

Well, the ICAC will have to make sure no enquiry is concluded before at least three-and-a-half years and Dayal can in the meantime go back to his Dayal house in Dayal Street and read his Dayal book on Dayal’s first year into his mandate. It looks as if we were spared another four similar books. If in the first book his name was mentioned 234 times in a 72-page book, imagine the sequels. 

We should perhaps be grateful for life’s little mercies. 

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