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Open letter to BJP National Spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi

Dear Meenakshi Lekhi,

An ardent supporter of BJP brought to my notice your statement on Cobrapost's "The Stalkers" expose inviting me to "milk the bull" or some such term. I am, frankly, puzzled at BJP's departure from the usual "lack of evidence is proof of innocence" methods on this particular issue, but I'll take the bait, as the subject is of relevance to conduct of elected representatives.

To begin with, I will not abuse your intelligence (or mine). The question of how the tapes "leaked" is a good one. Me not being a politician (or lawyer) and bloggers having some leeway with casual use of language, I'll go ahead and hazard the guess that someone leaked it to harm BJP interests, though in my observation, the interest in exposing leaks is usually more in terms of the leaker believing that the information is something the public should know. Both or neither may be true.

The more important point, also one you bring up, is whether the information is true. Cobrapost has got the information believing it to be material in the possession of the CBI (or at least that is what their website is saying). I don't believe anyone would tamper with the tapes considering that they are already evidence, and will be examined for tampering at some point and destroy the organization's reputation. Again, this is a guess. I am not giving any character certificates here.

I am reading a lot into what your statement does not say more than what it does, since what it does is basically question the UPA government on the leak and so on, which is not my headache. I'd like them to go out of power anyway. There are some things I disagree with, which I will bring up after these urgent bits.

[Tweet "Meenakshi Lekhi does not deny that the tapes are authentic #saheb"]

What your statement does not do is deny that the tapes are authentic - which would be the fastest way of resolving a growing headache for the BJP, if it could safely be claimed. I imagine if Amit Shah had made no such calls, he'd have gone "What the hell..." and told you and the show would be over right there.

[Tweet "Meenakshi Lekhi does not say that the surveillance followed procedure and was official #saheb"]

What your statement also does not do is assert that the surveillance was official or simply provide copies or dates of official orders or something that would differentiate it from an off the books operation - which would be another quick way of resolving the growing headache. Again, Amit Shah would know if he had ordered the surveillance by the book, or off the books and it would be a simple matter to set the record straight and nail Singhal for falsely implying that the operation was illegal.

[Tweet "Meenakshi Lekhi provides no explanation for why an adult woman being harassed would need to be spied on instead of openly protected #saheb"]

The third thing your statement does not do is provide any kind of rational explanation for why a woman needs to be monitored secretly to protect her instead of having trusted bodyguards at her side or why who she meets needs to be found out by spying on her movements round the clock and tapping her phone instead of asking her directly, if this was a consensual operation. The girl willingly meeting someone does not seem like she is being harassed. Instead, directives to prevent someone from going to Mumbai or to jail someone seem like actions taken to prevent the person she is interacting with consensually, without her knowledge. I imagine a girl being stalked would inform her protector herself that she had been approached again instead of the opposite. That is, assuming she wanted the protection.

The rest is just noise to obfuscate that Modi and Amit Shah have been squarely nailed by the expose (whether deliberately and maliciously leaked or not).

[Tweet "Even if the #saheb leak was deliberate, it is damning proof against Amit Shah and now Modi"]

I disagree with your claim that the girl's privacy was violated by the Congress. Actually I have no idea how the Congress came in here, but it I assume you mean Cobrapost when you say Congress in this instance, since I have been interacting with the average BJP thinking for a while now (if you aren't favoring us, you are Congress, etc). But Cobrapost as withheld her name, keeping the focus (rightly) on the surveillance operation instead of her identity.

I disagree with the girl's father's statement that you seem to be in agreement with as well, that this is a private matter of someone approaching the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi to seek protection for his daughter. The matter became one relevant to public interest when public funds and public servants were invested in acting on the request. It becomes one where public can ask for accountability when seriously invasive methods of surveillance are found used without any proper procedure followed.

[Tweet "#saheb expose is not a private/family matter if it involves the actions of public servants misusing office"]

I also think that there is some convenient meekness being painted on the Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who was, till a few days ago projected as a man of such integrity that his mother lives separately with humble means instead of achieving comforts using his influence. So it is a bit unbelievable that the man of such integrity suddenly started abusing state services for a personal contact without having any particular view on it.

Also, are you trying to say that the BJP believes that the correct method to deal with harassment is to make personal appeals and off the record protections and extra-curricular deterrents to the "harasser" instead of filing proper complaints? The calls don't seem to indicate that the girl is being harassed. In fact, the cops were trying to find out if she was alone in her room at 11pm at night or if "that boy" was with her. Assuming that "harassed" means the same thing to both of us.

None of the conversations seem to be speaking of her being bothered by whoever she is with. Also monitoring vehicle numbers and tracing and intercepting 3 phone numbers of someone she meets willingly is hardly any protection of her. Unless you are saying that the Gujarat government gave architecture projects to a complete idiot who cannot understand when she is being harassed and when she is not being harassed?

I also disagree that this is being used to entrap Modi. One could argue that the timing of the leak is a disadvantage to BJP, but this leak would never be advantageous. If CobraPost had waited for the elections to be over, you'd be saying they are trying to spike the National Elections. I don't think this expose would be nourishing to BJP at any point, and yet if it happened and it is true then of course the leaking was a necessary thing at some point or the other.

My condolences on the violation of the Telegraph Act. As an avid follower of leaks and open governance related issues, I have seen that leaks can be very traumatic for the entity whose actions get leaked. But that is how it is. Leaks usually break secrecy laws. That is how whistleblower protections become so important, because wrongs hiding behind laws should be exposed.

Anyway, I'm rambling now. Will be nice if you can make statements about those points I've put helpfully in bold.

Looking forward to the next explanation. Hopefully one that either admits a wrong, or provides a legally viable explanation for the surveillance.

Vidyut

PS: You may want to coordinate with other BJP supporters. Theories have started to contradict each other in the wild, though my ear remains eagerly yours, for the official explanation.

PPS: Is Modi going to comment on this eventually, if one of the explanations floats? Would look odd if he's commenting on everything except allegations against himself (which BJP office confirmed, not Congress)

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Vidyut

Founder at Aam Janata
Vidyut has a keen interest in mass psychology and using it as a lens to understand contemporary politics, social inequality and other dynamics of power within the country. She is also into Linux and internet applications and servers and has sees technology as an important area India lacks security in.
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