To blow a trumpet with a hole
Sir — Juxtapositions, especially when unintentional, can be immensely funny. While the front page of The Telegraph on December 21 announced that “Before entry, Japanese want to see exit route”, the back page carried an advertisement celebrating West Bengal’s becoming “a Japanese pick”. It is understandable that the reader’s fun was not shared by the chief minister who must have felt a trifle embarrassed. After such unfruitful ventures as the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi one, the Japanese have become cautious, while Bhattacharjee’s government is over-zealous in wooing them. If the efforts are now paying off, well and good. But to sing praises of Bengal’s “sound infrastructure and increasing labour productivity” is to be devious. The wily Japanese have every right to seek clarifications on the rules for backing out if the plans — which now look as rosy as the advertisement — backfire. But Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should tell his public relations men that the less one blows the trumpet, the less flak one is likely to receive when grand plans fall through.
Joydeep Das, Calcutta
Sir— “Saffron sweep on Hindutva high” (Dec 16) should not have come as a surprise. The saffron wave came riding on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s planks of terrorism and national security. Its electoral campaign caught an extra spark from the Godhra incident. Narendra Modi argued that without the BJP returning to power, the state would become a hotbed of terrorism and, perhaps, another Kashmir. With repeated references to Pervez Musharraf and questions of a choice between him and the Pakistani leader, he successfully created fear among the electorate. These ploys were enough to ensure that the people elected him.
Modi frankly depended on his agenda of the spread of communal hatred. The manner in which Modi has won on the Hindutva card makes one wonder if democracy is ideal in a situation where the masses can be easily influenced by the incitement of narrow sectarian feelings among them. What has become apparent is that this history of the Gujarat elections may well be repeated with greater vehemence in the forthcoming elections in other states. It is up to the citizens of the country to either rise to the occasion by reasserting their faith in the ideas of non-violence and religious tolerance as professed by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi or become willingly divided on the lines of religion.
Sankar Lal Singh, Calcutta
Sir— The ulemas and Islamic clerics cannot be faulted for having issued an appeal to their community to vote for the Congress in the Gujarat assembly elections. It was only Narendra Modi’s electioneering trick to project this democratic appeal as a religious fatwa. These religious leaders formed the only voice of the riot-affected community in the absence of any credible independent Muslim political leadership.
Although no Muslim in Gujarat has any faith in the Congress, the absence of any other alternative in the circumstances could have worked in favour of the party had it played its cards properly. It could have salvaged its ideological moorings even in defeat. But what actually showed up was its moral bankruptcy when it failed to focus on and counter Modi’s excesses. The Congress that was seen was a party shaken from its commitment to secularism in the face of Modi’s communal onslaught.
It would be foolish on the part of the moderates to turn a blind eye to the menace of “Moditva” that is being stridently imposed on the country. Hinduism is in as much danger as the religions of the minority communities. Strategies of self-preservation and self-defence by the polarized groups will be a natural corollary of the disastrous failure of the administration and the effective silencing of the moderate majority. The onus to restore sanity in such grim times is with the group that has been accorded the responsibility of governing the country. Modi’s victory will prove to be a pyrrhic victory if he tries to forcibly muffle the oppositional voice.
Ghulam Muhammed, Mumbai
Sir— Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s question as to why nobody from the Muslim community condemned the Godhra incident only shows how close the country has moved towards the end of secularism (“Godhra sting in Atal appeal”, Dec 18). Democracy has already become threatened because of the way in which election campaigning was carried out in Gujarat and the result it produced. The prime minister’s question would suggest that all Muslims in the state are being targeted because some of them were reportedly involved in the incident that had sparked off Godhra.
Going by the same logic, every Hindu has to repent for the barbarous crimes of his community after the burning of the train in Godhra and for the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Unless people protest against the religious dictatorship of the sangh parivar, they will meet the same fate as the Germans in the late Thirties.
Gouranga P. Chattopadhyay, Calcutta
Sir — The convincing endorsement of the ideology of Hindutva by the people of Gujarat has come as a blow to the pseudo-secularists and the English language media. The latter had worked overtime to launch venomous attacks on the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. They had spared no effort in spreading canards against the saffron brigade. Prime space was allotted to accounts of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, but a great hue and cry was raised when Modi sought to remind the people of the carnage at Godhra.
It is now evident that the majority in the country is fed up with Congress leaders who, in the name of secularism, pay scant respect to majority sentiments and keep on appeasing the minorities. Emergence of assertive Hinduism augurs well for the country and gives secularism its true meaning, that is, sarva dharma sama bhav. Towards this end, Modi has already gone on record to declare that his government will work towards “appeasement of none and justice to all”. It is hoped that the media will shed its communal bias and be more objective in reporting news in future.
Arvind D. Tapkire, Mumbai
Sir — The heavy turnout of Muslim voters during the Gujarat polls is significant. Badly bruised and beaten, the survivors of the Gujarat riots have displayed tremendous grit in braving hate campaigns and coming to vote. Despite the unfortunate result of the polls, they have certainly been strengthened by the tacit support of millions of Hindus in India who genuinely subscribe to the preservation of the pluralistic ethos of the country.
Md. Quddus, Hyderabad
Sir— In the mid-Seventies, the anti-Emergency mood among the people of India had assisted the Janata Party to come to power. In 1984, the sympathy wave following the assassination of Indira Gandhi helped Rajiv Gandhi greatly to become the next prime minister. The demolition of the disputed structure in Ayodhya in the early Nineties made the BJP’s dreams of ruling a nation come true.
These incidents prove that the vibrations of current issues of importance are crucial determinants of the fate of a political party in elections. What happened in the Gujarat election is just an addition to this list. This time it was the Hindutva card played in the context of Godhra that proved the magic wand for Modi as well as the BJP. All very well for them.
However, they would be mistaken if they believe that such events will see them through. The frenzy created by political parties for electoral purposes cannot possibly sustain a government. Recurrence of such events may well send the wrong signals to the electorate. They may begin to associate communal riots and pogroms with the BJP. It will be to the Modi government’s benefit if they put the past behind them and concentrate on the basic problems ailing Gujarat. The people will be quick to realize that mere communal fervour will not improve their situation. The government will have to face their wrath when a justification is sought from them.
Rajesh Kumar Sharma, Kankinara
Sir— I had the opportunity to see for myself how the Gujaratis are being systematically brainwashed by the so called guardians of Hinduism. It is a shame to watch the way in which a glorious and ancient culture called Hinduism is being tainted by a few selfish individuals. However, the policy of the sangh parivar will find no place in east or south India. The people there regard the teachings of Shankaracharya, Ramakrishna Paramhans and Swami Vivekananda above any other religious thought, let alone the one being propounded by the saffron brigade. It is hoped that any attempt by Modi and his men to pollute the communally peaceful atmosphere in these regions will be thwarted by its responsible citizens.
Partha De Sarkar, Calcutta