Sir — Vijayarao Scindia would have been proud had she been alive. Together, her children and grandchildren hold the fortunes of the two biggest political parties in their hands (“BJP loses a Scindia”, August 9). While Vasundhara Raje Scindia has the Congress on tenterhooks in Rajasthan, Jyotiraditya Scindia seems almost destined to become the leader of the Youth Congress. Yet, it is only the poverty of Indian politics that states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been unable to break free of the tangle of leaders like the Scindias who once ruled only a principality. Both the Scindia sisters are late entrants into politics, and Jyotiraditya took over the reins only after the death of his father. They have neither seriously nurtured their constituency nor worked hard to build up their reputation as political leaders. Much like the Nehru-Gandhis, their importance stem from their lineage. When will Indians stop looking at former rulers as their mai-baap'
Chittaranjan Palit, Calcutta
Promises to keep
Sir — It is unfortunate that the opposition stalled parliamentary proceedings once again on August 4 over the Ram temple issue by citing the prime minister’s speech delivered at the funeral of Ramachandradas Paramhans (“I’ll quit, not cave in: Atal”, August 5). But what was wrong with Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speech' As clarified by him in Parliament, Vajpayee, while paying tribute to the mahant had only said that his last wish to have the Ram temple being built would be fulfilled either by way of a negotiated settlement, or by virtue of “good sense” among the communities. Vajpayee never once said that there would be legislation to that effect or that the court verdict on the issue would be disrespected. One must remember that Vajpayee is one of the seniormost politicians alive who have always upheld parliamentary democracy. He has dared to confront his own partymen on his principles and have put the nation’s interests before his own. For these reasons he has often been referred to as the right man in the wrong party. Besides, if Somnath Chatterjee can feel good about being a communist cadre, why is it wrong if Vajpayee feels good about being a swayamsevak'
As far as the Congress is concerned, it has no moral right to say anything on the Ayodhya temple issue for the doors of the disputed shrine were unlocked in 1985 only on the orders of the Rajiv Gandhi government. As for obeying the verdict of the apex court, does the Congress remember that it had overturned the verdict of the Supreme Court in 1985 in the Shah Bano case by passing a parliamentary legislation' Even now, the Congress has adopted a stand on the uniform civil code that goes against the observations of the apex court.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, Jamshedpur
Sir — It is surprising that Atal Bihari Vajpayee has had to retract his statements so often (“Atal tries to rein in temple storm”, August 4). He has been doing this with such great frequency that the country should realize that its prime minister has become senile and incapable of meeting the demands it places on him. Nowhere in the world do heads of government look so handicapped and infirm. Look at Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and so on. Lee Kwan Yu of Singapore and Nelson Mandela are the two great leaders of the world who had the good sense to quit before being questioned on why they should continue. Why does Vajpayee not learn from their examples' Is it too much in India to give up power because the benefits associated with it are too great' India needs younger people with fresher minds and outlook to see beyond Ram, temples and mosques.
Kalyan Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — Although the prime minister may deny it, the Bharatiya Janata Party seems hellbent on building the Ram temple. The full credit for inventing a hundred per cent religious slogan and programme for a hundred per cent political party goes to leaders like L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi. When such a programme is masterminded, organized and led by the leaders of a political party, then a fundamental question comes, not only about their political identity, but also about their social identity. Advani, who claims to represent a secular democratic party, is one of the inventors of the Ram rathyatra programme. It was his clarion call that mobilized the kar sevaks in Ayodhya on December 6. Should we assume that a mature politician like Advani failed to foresee the possible consequences of such an ultra fanatic programme' Till now the movement is commanded and controlled by Advani and Joshi among others. Should we then regard them as different from the other “conspirators”' Should we give Advani a clean chit just because of his few words of lament' Should we understand that those dreaded moments on December 6 (as Swapan Dasgupta would have us believe) had shaken the fanatic Advani to realization' The history of the last decade, however, proves it wrong. On the occasion of the cremation of Ramchandradas Paramhans, the declaration of their commitment to the construction of the Ram temple by both the deputy prime minister and the prime minister shows that the party has remained consistent in its agenda.
Tridib Roy, Calcutta
Sir — How fortunate we are to have a prime minister who always shifts the blame to the media or makes some other scapegoat whenever his verbosity pushes him into a corner (“Outburst at temple barb”, August 5). It is ironical that he who refuses to accept the resignation of his ministers, even if they are made on genuine grounds, should threaten to quit every time fingers are raised at him. If his statement was merely to please the soul of a dead man, it only proves that our prime minister has no scruples even when it comes to lying to a departed soul.
Mrinmoy Goswami, Ngaon, Assam