AK Saseendran sting: Why Kerala is prone to political sex scandals
The latest scam involves AK Saseendran, a minister of Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), who allegedly had phone sex with a woman, as claimed by a channel which aired an audio clip.
Sex scams have plagued politics across India, but there is little doubt that the tiny state of Kerala beats all others in the matter of high libido among politicians of all hues. A politician getting caught with pants down is nearly the order of the day in Kerala, and yet each time a sex scam breaks out, newspapers and television channels cover it with the same elaborate detail they ran stories on the 2004 tsunami.
The latest scam involves AK Saseendran, a minister of Kerala’s ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF), who allegedly had phone sex with a woman, as claimed by a channel which aired an audio clip. It’s possible that the minister was honey-trapped into the lewd conversation, but that in no way makes it any less sinful than if he had flirted with the lady in question on his own. Nor does it diminish the deliciousness of the scam for the media which, like in the case of the past 'sexcapades', has lapped it up.
Saseendran, who belongs to Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), lost little time in quitting the ministry, but all this has left CPM Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his comrades squirming with acute embarrassment. Not long ago, they had cried hoarse against the previous chief minister Oommen Chandy and others of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) over what came to be called the “solar scam”. The Congress leaders allegedly sought sexual favours from a con-woman called Saritha Nair to facilitate her fictitious solar projects.
Where did it all begin?
It’s safe to conclude that the Congress, which dominated India’s politics for long after Independence, mothered sex scams across the nation, and the malaise spread to other parties in double time. Reporters who have covered the Congress in close quarters are aware that the party’s leaders have been using and abusing members of the Mahila Congress before elevating them in their careers, thus practising a political version of the film industry’s infamous casting couch.
The arrogance of the unchallenged power filled some Congress leaders with enough confidence to abuse other vulnerable women as well to satisfy their carnal desires with impunity. A Congress MP once boasted at a very private gathering that he kept count of all the women he slept with in a special diary.
In most cases, few women come forward to complain and so the number of cases that come to light, leave alone those that are investigated, is only a tiny proportion of the atrocities perpetrated. Examples like those of Congress leader ND Tiwari, who was caught with three women in bed in 2009 when he was the governor of Andhra Pradesh, and HY Meti, the party’s minister in Karnataka who was caught in a compromising position with a woman in 2016, are few and far between. Age, of course, is no bar. When caught, Tewari was 86 and Meti, 71.
After the “Congress culture” — an omnibus phrase that includes corruption, sycophancy, sexual misdemeanour and other evils — seeped into other parties, it was a free for all.
In two separate incidents in 2012, two BJP MLAs of Karnataka and two BJP MLAs of Gujarat were caught surfing porn in their respective assemblies. And the 2013 case of the then Madhya Pradesh minister Raghavji Lakhamsi Savala of the BJP allegedly sodomising his male servant, which led to his resignation, is particularly appalling.
Examples across India are endless, but at least going by the cases reported, Kerala has more than its share of sex scams than other states, the degeneracy afflicting both the Left and the Congress fronts. The most talked-about of these was the “ice cream parlour sex case” that erupted in 1997. It turned out that the parlour did more than selling ice cream: it pushed girls into prostitution. Eight years later, PK Kunhalikutty, a minister of the Indian Union Muslim League, an ally of the Congress, had to resign after one of the girls accused him of having molested her. Before and after this, there were countless other scams in Kerala.
In a state that goes by the sobriquet of 'God’s Own Country', there is rising concern among citizens and activists over the sexual depravity of the political class. Some are beginning to wonder whether the state has metamorphosed into a 'Pervert’s Own Country' and end up asking as to why.
There is no clear answer except what Dutch psychologist Joris Lammers would call a clear link between political power and sex, which is perhaps wreaking more havoc in Kerala than elsewhere in India and the world.
A study by Lammers and his team, published in the journal Psychological Science in July 2011, showed that “elevated power is positively associated with infidelity because power increases confidence in the ability to attract partners. This association was found for both actual infidelity and intentions to engage in infidelity in the future.”
Another study that Lammers and others undertook demonstrated that there was a “direct, causal link” between the experience of power and moral hypocrisy. “By moral hypocrisy we mean a situation in which individuals do not follow their own expressed moral rules and principles,” Lammers explained.
There may be three other reasons why sex scams plague Kerala:
- In the state’s dog-eat-dog politics, politicians increasingly use sex stings to fix their rivals. In many cases, the alleged victim disappears mysteriously, while a conveniently edited video or audio clip appears equally mysteriously on one channel or another to politically finish off the alleged offender.
- Proliferation of news channels has led to mad competition among them for TRPs and they find no better way to multiply viewership than with a saucy sex scandal.
- The high rate of literacy in Kerala (nearly 94 percent) has not resulted in a proportionate improvement in men’s sneering attitude towards women, though a range of government and private initiatives have led to their empowerment in other ways.
Kerala produces rubber. Kerala produces spices. Kerala produces coconuts. Kerala produces myriad political parties, even if a party’s founder is its only member. Kerala produces labour for other states and labour unions for itself. But the state will do well not to add sex-crazed wackos to this list.
Author tweets @sprasadindia
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