The sex scam that has rocked Karnataka and forced the resignation of state excise minister HY Meti on Wednesday is only the latest in a series of political "sexcapades" that have hit many states in India in the recent past. And it forces us to ask the inevitable question once again: Are India's politicians oversexed, depraved and perverted?
It would indeed seem that there is nothing in the world that produces a sexual drive that is more medieval and uninhibited than politics. Arrogance of power and immunity from law perhaps do raise testosterone levels, and it's a subject that has escaped the understanding of modern science, but about which no seminars have ever been held. Or do politicians think they need erotic diversions from the tedious and complex task of administration?
Going by the number of sex scams in India, however, it might seem that it's the governance which comes in sporadic interludes in an otherwise unending saga of sari-chasing.
Sex, lies and video tapes
On Wednesday, Kannada channels aired a 30-second video clip showing Meti in what looked like a compromising position with a woman. This left chief minister Siddaramaiah in an uncompromising position. But he was quick to show Meti the door.
The woman, a 26-year-old physiotherapist who works for the state's health department, had gone to see the minister in a guesthouse to ask for help in some matter. And the minister evidently found her irresistible. And somebody — nobody knows who — made a short movie of it.
There had been talk of the existence of such a video for over a week, but Meti had flatly denied the whole thing. A couple of ministers had even argued that Meti must get the "benefit of doubt", considering his age. Meti is 71.
Age is no bar
These ministers had clearly forgotten senior Congress leader ND Tiwari. He resigned as governor of Andhra Pradesh in 2009 after a Telugu channel telecast a video showing an elderly man (alleged to be Tiwari) in bed with three naked women. When this had happened, Tiwari was at the ripe old age of 86.
In fact, just last month, Siddaramaiah was left embarrassed after a TV channel caught his education minister Tanveer Sait watching sleazy images on his mobile phone while he was at a Tipu Jayanti celebration. The minister claimed he was watching a "similar function" held at his home town. But a police officer said he was taking a good look at some alluring images of a young Melania Trump, who went on to become First Lady of the United States.
Sex scams cut across party lines
Nobody is, of course, jumping to the conclusion that libidinal excesses are confined to the Congress. Just as age is no bar for Tiwari and Meti, sexcapades can also cut across party lines. Karnataka's BJP leaders, now screaming themselves hoarse about Meti's adventure, would know this pretty well.
In 2012, Lakshman Savdi and CC Patil, two BJP ministers of the Sadananda Gowda cabinet, were caught watching porn clips on a mobile phone on the floor of the state assembly. The ministers had apparently decided to entertain themselves while the House was in uproar over the hoisting of Pakistani flag in a northern Karnataka town. Their fun ended when some TV channels aired close-up shots showing the two sitting next to each other and surfing porn sites. The two ministers, with a third colleague, the owner of the mobile phone, were all forced to resign a day later. Siddaramaiah, who was in the Opposition then, had called it "disgraceful".
No state boundaries
Two BJP MLAs from Gujarat were allegedly surfing porn, just a month after the Karnataka episode despite all the hoopla created by women's activists at the time. The party stoutly defended them, saying there was no proof that the MLAs were looking at obscene clips. Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam had said at the time: "After Karnataka, it's Gujarat. And such behaviour comes from a party that takes so much pride in culture."
But the fact that parliamentary privileges do not extend to watching porn in the House was lost on a legislator of Nirupam's own party in Odisha in December 2015. Naba Kishore was suspended from the state Assembly for a week for allegedly watching "objectionable" clips on his mobile phone in the House. The Congress members created a ruckus to protest the suspension, as if the act of the MLA was a figment of the collective imagination of the ruling Biju Janata Dal members.
This list is by no means exhaustive. In recent years, we have heard of more scams involving senior politicians from Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarkhand and Bihar. And don't forget Kerala, God's own country, which has produced more than its share of sex scams.
The most infamous of these was the "ice cream parlour sex case" that surfaced in 1997, when an ice cream parlour was found to be a cover for a brothel that lured young girls into a sex racket. The allegation by one of the girls that she had been molested by Indian Union Muslim League minister PK Kunhalikutty led to his resignation in 2005.
Don't worry, Kejriwal
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal needn't be too worried that the reputation of his fledgling, lily-white clean Aam Admi Party was besmirched a little, when he had to sack his minister Sandeep Kumar after a sex tape put him in a bit of a fix. Like corruption, sex is another common thread that runs through India's politics of all hues.
Updated Date: Dec 15, 2016 17:48:04 IST