Gift for the birthday girl
Sir — January 15 will see yet another over-age political leader make a spectacle of something as trite as her birthday (“Birthday push for Mayavati”, Jan 9). But more than a birthday bash, it is Mayavati’s idea of collecting money from her supporters — to revive her party’s financial health, she says — that takes the cake. If the Bahujan Samaj Party is so poor that it needs doles to fill its coffers, how can it think of financing a grand lunch for hoi polloi at Lucknow and a grander dinner for the cognoscenti at Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium' Whatever the Uttar Pradesh chief minister may say, surely the electorate is not so foolish that it does not realize where the finances for these banquets will come from' But it is in keeping with the hypocrisy inherent in Indian politics that the lady can make excuses about flagging resources on the one hand and with a straight face, contemplate such an unnecessary extravaganza the very next minute. The chief minister of one of the most backward states got her priorities right.
Dipankar Choudhury, Guwahati
Sir — The bandh called by the Party for Democratic Socialism on January 10 was a bandh with a difference. The PDS did not hold any major demonstrations in favour of the bandh, something that seems to have become the sine qua non for bandhs to be declared successful. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) called it unsuccessful, which was only to be expected since the bandh was supported by its main political opponent. Its decision to oppose the bandh is surprising since it was the CPI(M) which had always encouraged such activities. The party, which controls the state government, tried to ensure all public services ran normally, but the nearly empty roads and state buses told their own story.
Madhabi D. Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — For people like us who live in other states, travelling to Calcutta means reserving tickets and making other arrangements in advance. Bandhs and raasta rokos in the state can thus completely unsettle all our plans and schedules. It becomes all the more troublesome if one is travelling with women and children. Since there seems to be no signs of a let-up in such agitations, websites especially created to disseminate information about forthcoming bandhs and the areas they will cover will greatly help travellers to this bandh-infected state.
Uday Maitra, Bangalore
Sir — That meaningless bandhs continue to be called in a state which desperately needs more industries for its jobless millions shows that political parties do not care if, in their game of oneupmanship, the state is the loser. But the people of West Bengal finally seem to have had enough of bandhs at least if the number of people who attended office on Friday was any indication. The empty roads came as a boon to them as it helped them reach office in record time.
Pallavi Srivastava, Calcutta
Sir — I asked the daughters of a friend whether classes were held on Friday, the day of the PDS bandh. One said that classes were suspended owing to electrical repairs. The other said that her school was open but the school-buses did not ply. A third said that her school remained closed on Friday but classes were held on Saturday, officially a holiday. That is a very good idea — each day lost as a result of bandhs can be made up for by working on a holiday.
Pabitra Kumar Das, Calcutta
Sir — Political parties in Bengal seem determined to completely destroy the economy of the state. Look at the formidable line-up for the month of January — starting with the January 6 rally by the Trinamool Congress, the 12-hour bandh by the PDS on the 10th, the CPI(M) rally on the 12th and finally, the bandh on January 27. The parties seem to have no respect for the ordinary citizen’s work schedule or the disruption of normal life.
Samindra Mohan Roy, Calcutta
Sir — It is good that the West Bengal government has decided to re-introduce English in class I (“English set for full return”, Dec 31). For years, the Left Front government deprived students in the state of the benefit of starting to learn the language in their formative years. As a result, students from the state now figure nowhere in all-India examinations. The children of left politicians, however, were sent to the best English-medium schools. Generations of students have lost out as a result of such double-standards.
Mohan Lal Sarkar, Budge Budge
Sir — In its 25-year long rule, the Marxist government has completely ruined education in the state. It is ridiculous to hear the left now admit its mistakes on the eve of the panchayat polls. Such moves, of which the decision to reintroduce English is a part, are not of much help. The sins of 25 years cannot be washed away in a day.
Govinda Bakshi, Budge Budge
Sir— The chief minister’s decision to abolish reservations in higher educational institutions, is commendable. Reservations have only served to deprive meritorious students. The failure to get admission into a good college has made many students move out of the state, resulting in a brain-drain. The decision should be extended to employment too.
Md. Ahtesham Ahmad, Andal