Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s squeaky-clean image got some waxing on Monday as he offered to be questioned over the 2G scandal, but the move came through a curious proverb: “I sincerely believe,” Singh said, “that like Caesar’s wife, the Prime Minister should be above suspicion…”
The maxim “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion” is traced to Julius Caesar after he divorced Pompeia, who had been accused of adultery, though there was no evidence of her guilt. It now refers to the ethics expected from people closely related to those in powerful public positions.
Opinion is divided over whether Caesar’s statement was a sign of moral uprightness or just self-serving rationalization. That does not taint Singh, but it shows that such comments invite either accolades of piety or accusations of political grandstanding. Meanwhile, the truth behind the 2G scam remains as elusive as Caesar’s motive.