20 January, 2021

Taints And Pouts

As a special court conviction resurrects Rao's old ghosts, one of India's most sordid political tales may be ending

Taints And Pouts

Some cases just refuse to go away. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (jmm) bribery case is one of them. Filed back in 1996, everybody thought that by now the dramatis personae had all but disappeared into political oblivion. But last week, in what is one of the first-ever criminal convictions of those holding the highest offices in the land, special judge Ajit Bharioke pronounced his verdict: convictions for main accused former premier P.V. Narasimha Rao and his home minister Buta Singh for buying votes to win a no-confidence motion on July 28, 1993. The judge fixed October 11 for announcing the sentence - the offences carry a maximum punishment of seven years and a minimum of six months.

The verdict could well be a landmark one. While nine top figures got away, including Congress veterans and industrialists, the focus is now clearly on Rao. At a packed special court at Delhi's Vigyan Bhavan - attended by most of the politicians named in the fir filed in March '96 - Bharioke said he found both Rao and Buta Singh guilty of criminal conspiracy...



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