A Special CBI Court's verdict sentencing the former BJP president, Bangaru Laxman, to four years of rigorous imprisonment for accepting money from Tehalka journalists conducting a sting operation to facilitate government contracts is harsh. The court ought to have taken into consideration Mr. Laxman's age, health, and the number of years that have elapsed (11 years) since the sting operation was conducted, and the fact that the nation's security was not, in reality, compromised as the incident was fictitious.

P.V. Ramana Rao,

Guntur

Mr. Laxman was trapped in a sting operation. There was no real arms dealer or defence contract. If the former BJP leader is to be jailed, so should be the bribe-giver. Will Tehelka and its editor be imprisoned for conducting such a nasty sting operation?

N. Mohan,

Chennai

For all we know, Tehelka might have tried to expose many others and succeeded only in Mr. Laxman's case. The BJP leader did not even know that defence deals are not sealed with Rs 1 lakh.

Alas, the poor man is being punished not for his avarice but his folly. Today the man with the broadest smile on his face is none other than Ottavio Quattrocchi — for whom the government of India worked.

Anand Sriram & Swati Sriram,

Mumbai

The conviction is bound to send a strong message to those who have joined politics to enrich themselves. This is perhaps the first time that a former president of a national party has been convicted on the charge of accepting a bribe. Although the BJP has dissociated itself from Mr. Laxman, it cannot wipe out the stigma for a long time to come.

R.J. Khurana,

Bhopal

Sentencing of the former BJP president is welcome. The verdict, coming after 11 years, has proved that the law does not spare anyone.

D. Joji Babu,

Bangalore

Mr. Laxman's conviction is another blow to the BJP. It cannot make much noise on the Bofors issue now. Indeed, the corrupt image of the Congress and the BJP is paving the way for the growth of regional parties.

Naved Rashid,

Varanasi

Mr. Laxman was not holding a government post. Nor did he cause any loss to the exchequer. I wonder if I will end up in jail if a person pays me (a plain John Doe) to influence my friend in the government and I am videographed taking money from the bogus sting operator.

Nandu Paruvakat,

Thiruvananthapuram

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