Desperately seeking allies
Sir — On the one hand, Ram Vilas Paswan accuses Sonia Gandhi of foiling his attempt to forge an alliance of secular parties. On the other, he is not bothered in the least that his Lok Janshakti Party’s fielding of 30 candidates for the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections would divide the anti-Bharatiya Janata Party votes (“Jilted Paswan lectures Sonia”, Feb 15). Of course, this makes him the true Indian politician, who goes boldly where no well-meaning individual would think of going — contradicting his pious intentions and principled stand with his actions. Paswan is virtually persona non grata in Himachal Pradesh, and Sonia Gandhi knows only too well that tying up with him would entail leaving a few seats for Janshakti candidates, by no means a wise electoral move. Paswan can question the Congress’s commitment to secularism as much as he likes, but he had better realize that his name does not make a difference outside the jungle that is Bihar.
N.P. Upadhyay, Lucknow
Sir — World Cup 2003 is turning out to be one of the most controversial ever. Only a few days into the tournament, and already the newspapers are full of everything but cricket. Shane Warne’s shocking departure from the Australian squad following allegations that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs was the first distressing episode. Next Waqar Younis, the Pakistani captain, lost his cool against Australia and bowled two beamers to Andrew Symonds in the penultimate over. In the same match, Rashid Latif faced charges of making racist comments against Adam Gilchrist. Added to these are New Zealand’s reluctance to play against Kenya in Nairobi and England’s decision not to play in Zimbabwe on security grounds.
Millions of cricket-lovers around the world wait for the world cup which comes once in four years. The players should forget their political and personal differences and rise to the occasion.
Suchi Arya, Calcutta
Sir — The news that Sharne Warne had failed a drug test just before World Cup 2003, has shocked not merely the Australian team but also cricket lovers throughout the world (“Horror before last hurrah”, Feb 12). One had always thought that only footballers, boxers and athletes took performance-enhancing drugs. It is quite possible that Warne unknowingly took some medicines for his shoulder-injury which contained a banned substance. The timing of this incident is especially unfortunate, with Warne having decided to retire after this World Cup.
This incident should be a lesson to players to take medicines prescribed only by doctors who are well-versed in sports medicine. One only hopes that Warne, like India’s Sunita Rani, will clear the second dope test and re-join his team in South Africa. Cricket-fans would not like Warne to leave the game in disgrace.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — The Australians have always been very good at pointing fingers at others instead of taking action against their own compatriots. Witness the accusations of doping against Chinese athletes and match-fixing against the Pakistanis, while Mark Waugh and Shane Warne were carefully protected. If action is not taken against Warne now, Australia will forfeit all right to adopt a high moral tone.
Biswapriya Purkayastha, Shillong
Sir — Many allegations have been made against Shane Warne on earlier occasions, but he has come clean every time. He will prove his innocence this time too. Warne has always been a professional, who has conducted himself as a responsible ambassador of his country. It is sad that he is being compared to Diego Maradona and Mike Tyson, both of whom have been found guilty of the charges against them.
Sumant Poddar, Calcutta
Sir — The morality of sportsmen has never been as suspect as it is today. Only a few sportsmen and women are guilty of such misdemeanors, but they bring infamy on the entire sporting fraternity. I feel Shane Warne is innocent. He might have taken the diuretic, perhaps with the intention of losing weight — but how would that affect his performance on the field' Does his short run-up require a great deal of energy' If Warne were a pace bowler, the allegation would have been understandable. If this continues, sportsmen will have to stop taking medicines for fever or cold. The International Cricket Council must think of a way to protect innocent players from harassment in the future.
Jang Bahadur Singh, Jamshedpur
Sir — I visited Bodh Gaya recently, after about 50 years. What I saw was a bazaar selling cola water, snacks and trinkets; the temple garden had been converted into one large sleeping dormitory; the “bodhi” tree was barricaded by a 15-feet wall and made almost invisible. The interiors of the temple had brick walls with garish paints, and a very modernistic idol was placed inside a glass box. The surroundings were dirty and stinking. I found Hindu temples in Gaya cleaner. Is this how we treat a heritage site'
K.K. Ghose, Calcutta