Freedom and after
Sir — Masood Azhar, recently released by a Pakistan court, was the man freed in a barter deal that the hijackers of IC-814 struck with the Indian government (“Pak court frees Masood from house arrest”, Dec 15). Azhar’s connections with Sheikh Omar and the conspirators of the World Trade Center attack is not merely a figment of the paranoid Indian government’s imagination. So how could Pakistan, which keeps insisting on its “intolerance” of terrorism, release him' One can be sure that Pervez Musharraf will wash his hands of the issue, saying it was the decision of the court, although it could not have come about without his tacit consent. Another intriguing fact is that the United States of America, with its high-profile war against terrorism, has not yet reacted to what can only be described as brazen fostering of criminals. Perhaps India should now not turn to diplomatic avenues to contend with Pakistan and prepare to fight fire with fire.
M. Datta, Calcutta
A community votes
Sir — Bharat Bhushan’s article, “The specificities of Gujarat” (Dec 19), was so objectionable and prejudiced against the Gujarati community that it is surprising it was carried in The Telegraph. Instead of respecting the mandate of the people, Bhushan seeks to malign the people of the state. For one, his analysis of the subject is based on a false reading of the history of Gujarat. Two, his observations about the state not having witnessed an intellectual renaissance in the 19th and 20th centuries, that it saw no left movement, or the “efflorescence of eccentrics or path-breaking artists”, are too general and can be applied to most other places. And finally, sentences like “cooperative milk-marketing made its cows fat and its human inhabitants culturally emaciated”, are in very bad taste.
R. Chatterjee, Calcutta
Sir — The people of Gujarat have done Pakistan a favour by re-electing Narendra Modi with such a thumping majority. The sangh parivar will now not hesitate to replicate the Gujarat experiment all over India, wherever elections are due. Even if it is unsuccessful in its attempt, it will be foolish to believe that it will not try. This will aggravate communal polarization and Pakistan’s nefarious designs will get an added fillip — with more potential recruits thirsting for revenge.
The people of Gujarat have also done a favour to politicians of all parties by proving that neither non-governance nor corruption invites any electoral comeuppance so long as the masses are sidetracked by rhetoric and engineered mayhem.
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong
Sir — The landslide victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party will hopefully silence Pervez Musharraf who had raised the issue of the “genocide” of innocent Muslims in Gujarat by Hindus at the United Nations general assembly.
The media probably does not realize it, but the “saffron sweep” was largely the result of the anger the electorate felt at the deliberate maligning of the BJP. While accusing Narendra Modi of engineering the violence, did the media try to find out why no riots took place before Godhra or why Gujarat was peaceful after Akshardham' Too much Hindu-bashing put the media on the wrong foot. Take the vilification of Praveen Togadia. Togadia was answering questions put to him by the media. Asked when he expected India to become a Hindu rashtra, Togadia said, “Within the next two years”. But wasn’t that the reply the media expected Togadia to give'
The Congress too proved incapable of stopping the BJP. Like the BJP, it too took the help of saffron-clad mendicants like Murari Bapu in its campaign. The Congress wanted to kill two birds with one stone — woo Hindus even as it took the Muslim votes for granted. No wonder, it failed. Modi, on the other hand, dwelt on development and security issues, and put emphasis on Gujarati asmita (pride). The BJP must now be looking forward to winning the assembly elections in five states next year. But, in its hour of glory, the BJP must not forget to meet the aspirations of the middle classes.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — How could the people vote someone like Narendra Modi to power' If this trend infects voters all over the country, it will sound the death knell of secular India. Other political parties are to blame for not uniting to stop the Hindutva brigade.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The fatwa issued by Ulema council, directing Muslims to vote for the Congress, led to Hindus voting en bloc for the BJP. Also, Shankersinh Vaghela, chief of the state Congress unit, did more harm than good. He could not even get his son elected. Also, none of the candidates in the constituences Sonia Gandhi addressed meetings in won.
Bijoy Menon, New Delhi
Sir — The Vishwa Hindu Parishad may have rubbed the Election Commission the wrong way but there is no denying that it is a power to reckon with. Perhaps, now the BJP leadership may reconsider its conciliatory stance with its Central allies.
Shyamal Chakrabarti, Kharagpur
Sir — At the height of Godhra, the BJP lost the Delhi municipal elections. Thus to say that Godhra, after so many months, is responsible for the defeat of the secular parties is not true. Even so, it is sad that the pseudo-secularists are now casting aspersions on the intelligence of the electorate. Had they won, it would have been a victory of secularism, but since they lost, communalism has won.
Udita Agrawal, New Delhi
Sir — The results clearly show that the BJP’s election formula of first staging communal riots and then presenting itself as the saviour of “beleaguered” Hindus, has worked as it did for the Congress in the past 50 years. The Election Commission should countermand the results in riot-affected areas and arrange for repoll under a neutral administration.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Sir — The home minister, L.K. Advani, is right — some people will indeed wear black badges now that the BJP has won in Gujarat. These are the people who hold the idea of secularism very dear. They are the ones who believe in democratic norms rather than in the politics of religion. They are sad that the Gujarat elections polarized the electorate. The black badge will denote the trauma of all right-thinking citizens at the victory of Hindutva. Truly, Gujarat was the laboratory for these forces.
Y.K. Mir, Hyderabad