"This scandal came as a great favour from God. It is a boon from the heavens."
—Chhattisgarh chief minister Ajit Jogi on his BJP rival Dilip Singh Judeo caught accepting money on camera
A moustache had become a symbol of political pride in Chhattisgarh ever since Dilip Singh Judeo threatened to shave off his very fine pair if he failed to defeat Ajit Jogi in the assembly polls. But a hidden camera, a grainy television image of cash being handed to him and a bizarre remark about money being equal to God, dashed all Judeo's dreams of puffing his chest out and twirling that well-groomed moustache. It also sent the BJP, both at the Centre and in the states, reeling in shock. As Jogi said at every public rally thereafter: "Unhone muche nahin/apni aur BJP ki naak kata di (He's not shaved his moustache but he's brought dishonour to himself and the BJP)."
Judeo himself cut a sorry picture when the Outlook team went to meet him after sun-down, the day the scandal broke. Slurring, he mouthed several obscenities in Hindi. "To hell with everything. This is a conspiracy hatched by Jogi and anti-Hindu forces. There is only one thing I am good at. Converting people to Hinduism. Wherever there are minorities, there is terrorism. There will be another division of the country. The Northeast will separate, then Kashmir. But people like me who work for the Hindu cause are persecuted," he thundered. There was also something amounting to a tacit admission of guilt when he said: "What is wrong in saying paisa khuda to nahin/lekin khuda ki kasam/ khuda se kam bhi nahin (Money is not god, but by god, it is not lesser than god)." He then went on to recite a well-known Urdu couplet: "Zahid sharab peene de muje masjid mein baith ke/Ya woh jagah bata de jahan par khuda na ho (Allow me to sit in the mosque and drink/Or show me a place where there is...