Manfully at people’s service
Sir — There is no point in trying to find fault with the Jabalpur high court’s ruling on Kamla Jaan, India’s first eunuch mayor (“Women seat topples genderless Kamla”, Feb 4). If a rule is a rule, and Kamla Jaan had indeed filed her nomination as a “male”, then it is only fair that she has been disqualified from holding the post of the mayor. But the news immediately exposes the dark underbelly of Indian society and raises a number of uneasy questions. What exactly is the status of a transgendered individual in the Indian electoral system' Should we now demand that eunuchs strip before allowing them to contest' And most important, in the toss-up between uncertain gender and corrupt governance, should we choose the latter, lest the former taints the moral fabric of our society' We must not forget that Kamla Jaan had served the people of Katni better than any man or woman before her.
Madhumita Ray, Ranchi
Sir — Atal Bihari Vajpayee has made one thing very clear with his cabinet reshuffle — good economics also makes for good politics. With the assembly elections in several key north Indian states slated for the later part of this year, the reshuffle was aimed at allaying fears that politics may block the reform process. By showing that he has faith in both Arun Shourie, the disinvestment minister, and Arun Jaitley, who was given the portfolios of law and commerce and industries, the prime minister has reiterated his support for the liberalization process. In fact, by giving Shourie the additional charge of telecommunications, Vajpayee has tried to resolve the contentious issues in the telecom sector in the most transparent way possible. Shourie’s presence may help the government resist corporate lobbying. It is beyond doubt that the government backs Shourie against the defence minister, although as the editorial, “Election alert” (Jan 31), points out, the need was felt by the top brass that the reforms agenda had to be calibrated to show that the government was not anti-people. Arun Jaitley’s return to the cabinet after a brief stint at the organization has its own significance. As a political manager, media-savvy lawyer, Jaitley has his own contribution to make to the ministry.
The cabinet reshuffle shows that the government has realized that the Hindutva agenda alone cannot clear the electoral barriers for it. Economic and social issues must be handled with equal care by efficient ministers.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj
Sir — There is little doubt that the latest cabinet reshuffle has been undertaken with an eye on the impending assembly elections and an early go at the next Lok Sabha elections. But it must also be acknowledged that the arrangement has been most comfortable. The second-generation talented leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party have been inducted back into the cabinet with the right portfolios. Arun Jaitley is an invariable asset, while Sushma Swaraj faces a challenging job in the uplift of the Union health ministry. In fact, Shatrughan Sinha should have been sent off packing to where he came from — oblivion.
With strong regional leaders, the task of implementing a Centrally aided programme always becomes easier. That is why the presence of Vasundhara Raje and Uma Bharti in Jaipur and Bhopal respectively will send the right signals. However, the non-induction of any minority leader into the cabinet does not augur well for the nation. The third-generation leaders of the Congress seem to be no match for Advani’s boys.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — The recent cabinet reshuffle will have a positive impact on the process of economic reforms. The reinduction of Arun Jaitley and the retention of Arun Shourie attest to that. One hopes that the arrangement has some impact on poverty alleviation and the growth of employment since those will serve as definite advantages to the BJP before the next round of elections. We also hope that the opposition will cooperate with the ministers in the interests of the nation.
R.N. Lakhotia, New Delhi
Sir — Pramod Mahajan has been banished. Both the prime minister and the deputy prime minister have played their roles well. It was obvious that Mahajan was favouring some of the players in the battle for telecommunications. However, it would be too early to write Mahajan off. He may excel as a backroom boy.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — All the vaastu and feng shui have failed Shatrughan Sinha miserably. The cabinet reshuffle has made it evident that unless someone performs, he will surely find himself out of the council of ministers. Sinha has already spent a considerable part of the taxpayer’s money in renovating his office. He can salvage his image partly if he pays up some of this expense. And he must remember not to repeat his performance in the shipping ministry. There will be hardly anyone to fish him out of troubled waters then.
Arta Mishra, Cuttack
Sir — A referendum held recently in Siliguri sought public opinion on felling of trees to widen a road. This should serve as an example to the state government and its leaders. Before renaming a city and important streets, the opinion of the citizens should be sought through similar referendums. After all, it is the citizens who make a city what it is.
Saif M. Hussain, Siliguri