Sir ' Ashok Mitra is not known to be a great admirer of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. But he alone does not constitute the whole of India. There are others who think differently of the dynasty in Indian politics. Detractors of the dynasty are often trapped in contradictions. For instance, the politicians, who railed against three generations of the dynasty, have now suddenly discovered virtues in Sonia Gandhi and are prostrating themselves at her feet. This is sheer survival strategy, as Darwin would have put it.
In the 19th century, the Bengali babu was obsessed with one question ' whether god has a physical form or not. Problems like colonial exploitation or the absence of healthcare in villages did not worry him. Likewise, the left today seems to be fixated on the issue of religious fundamentalism. Let factories close down, let workers suffer, but the show against fundamentalism must go on. This obsession, ironically, has forced them to roll out the red carpet before the very dynasty they love to hate.
Mitra's suggestion that coalition partners ask the Congress to select a prime minister from outside the dynasty is equally risible. Selecting a prime ministerial candidate is the prerogative of the largest party in the coalition alone, in this case, the Congress. Furthermore, does Mitra really think that the left parties have the power to challenge the Congress's choice of prime minister' The left has no national base of its own, and is at best, a conglomeration of state level units. Its leaders are perennially confused about deciding which is the lesser evil, the Congress or the BJP. This has only given the Congress, and the dynasty, a new lease of life.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir ' In 'The dynasty forever' (Oct 14) , Ashok Mitra goes on to expose the regressive mindset of the present lot of politicians .Whether it is politics , sports or films, a group of truly mediocre leaders have marginalized those who have talent . One reason why constructive criticism in these spheres has become such a rarity is because these leaders are loathe to accept newer and better ideas.
This is precisely why these netas fail to strike the right chord with the masses. Under these circumstances, it is the media which has emerged as the beacon of hope for ordinary Indians. It has in it the power to shatter the devious plans of politicians like Mulayam Singh Yadav in Uttar Pradesh and Laloo Prasad Yadav of Bihar, and encourage the emergence of a new leadership with fresh ideas. But to do this, the media has to first stop glorifying these leaders with larger-than-life images to curb their influence on the electorate.
Arvind K. Pandey, Allahabad
Sir ' Even Congressmen will find it difficult to refute Ashok Mitra's allegation that the Nehru-Gandhi clan enjoys an elevated status within the folds of the Congress party. Mitra's other contention, that the erstwhile critics of the dynasty, many of whom are now partners in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, are ironing out their differences with the dynasty to enjoy the fruits of political power, also rings true.
C.R. Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
For a better cause
Sir ' Diwali is around the corner. As in other years, people will celebrate Diwali by bursting firecrackers for days before and after the festival, causing both noise and air pollution. Not just that. Crackers are produced in factories which employ child labourers, a practice which is illegal in our country. These children are often injured in the process of making these crackers as they work under hazardous conditions. Firecrackers are a nuisance, especially for the old and the infirm who need to live in peace and quiet. Instead of spending a fortune on buying crackers, people should put their hard-earned sums to better use. What about using the funds for charity or in educating poor and needy children'
C.V. Subbaraman, Ahmedabad
Sir ' The Union government should declare the day after Diwali a public holiday. This is because many people celebrate the festival late into the night. Most of the markets remain closed on the following day and there is a sharp fall in the attendance in government offices too. There are hardly any people visiting banks or other public offices on the following day. One hopes the government would take these factors into consideration and take the necessary steps.
Madhu Agrawal, Dariba, Delhi
Sir ' After the tsunami struck the Indian coastline last year, the nation observed great restraint. The New Year celebrations were distinctly muted and several organizations and institutions cancelled their programmes. People donated generously towards relief and rescue operations that were going on at the time. Let us hope that the people of this country take a similar pledge this time as well and extend a helping hand to the victims of the terrible quake in Kashmir who are in no less need of help than the tsunami-affected.
Suman Barthakur, Guwahati