Track two politics
Sir — Sudip Bandopadhyay’s tea party with Arun Jaitley is an indication of how things have soured in the Trinamool Congress, and the growing dissatisfaction with Mamata Banerjee (“BJP alliance door ajar for Mamata”, Sept 10). Banerjee’s decision to distance herself from the BJP has not gone down too well with second-rung leaders like Bandopadhyay who are reluctant to give up the loaves and fishes of power. Further, Banerjee is now no more than a pale shadow of her former self, having lost almost all her ability to whip up public sentiments. Bandopadhyay probably wants the equation between the BJP and the Trinamool Congress to go back to what it was when the two first forged an alliance in 1998. With its credibility compromised by the drubbing it got in the last assembly elections, it is the Trinamool Congress that is in dire need of the BJP’s support, and not the other way round. Banerjee’s refusal to accept this could well spell disaster for her party.
Meghna Gupta, Calcutta
Caught in the crossfire
Sir — It is sad that the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference has decided not to participate in the Jammu and Kashmir assembly elections, although a few dissident leaders of the separatist organization are in the fray (“Valley of hope and fear”, Aug 6). The heterogeneity of interest of the various groups that make up the APHC makes any composite political move on their part impossible. Also, taking on the organizational might of the National Conference in the elections would have been an uphill struggle for most of these groups. Perhaps, the APHC constituents decided against participating in the polls not because they don’t have faith in the electoral process in India, but because they did not want to end up with egg on their faces.
Rudrasish Datta, Howrah
Sir — Even as the assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir begin on September 16, the question is, will these elections be free and fair (“The Abdullahs versus a miracle”, Aug 23)' Will the elections bring peace to the valley' Since both the APHC and Pakistan have called the polls a farce, the Indian government should have invited international observers for the polls. This would also have given the next state government the legitimacy it needs to take difficult decisions. Only a government that comes to power through free and fair elections, can provide the clean, efficient and transparent administration necessary to ensure equitable distribution of political and economic powers.
Niloy Sinha, Azimganj
Sir — The visit of the deputy secretary of state of the United States of America, Richard Armitage, to India in late August was a thinly veiled attempt to coerce India into making concessions on Kashmir. Ever since the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power, India and the US have embarked on a cautious wooing of each other. After September 11, 2001, the US has tried to extend its control over the entire region. It is obvious that the US wants to mediate between India and Pakistan over the Kashmir dispute. But by allowing the US gameplan to succeed, the BJP-led government is compromising the sovereignty of the country.
Armitage also seemed keen to secure India’s support for the US’s proposed invasion of Iraq. Though the US has claimed that the purpose of the invasion is to destroy the chemical and biological weapons that Iraq has allegedly been manufacturing, its real purpose is to seize Iraqi oil fields with their huge reserves of petroleum. Since India is highly dependent on Iraqi oil, it should tell the US that it will not support any military operation against the latter. India must also mobilize other third world countries against the US if it decides to attack Iraq.
Sanmay Ganguly, Calcutta
Sir — The Richard Armitages may come and go but the Kashmir imbroglio will not be resolved in a hurry. Neither Pakistan nor India is mature enough to work towards durable peace in the subcontinent even though the people in the region want peace.
No agreement has been honoured long enough to yield results. The Tashkent and Shimla pacts are irrelevant now. The sanctimonious Lahore declaration too did not last long, and the Agra summit did not even reach fruition.
India has also not played fair by Kashmir. The instrument of accession, signed by the maharaja, Hari Singh, gave the government of India a say over defence, foreign affairs and communications only. But even now India hesitates on the question of granting autonomy to Kashmir. So India cannot complain now when the Pakistani president, Pervez Musharraf, reneges on his promise to stop cross-border infiltration.
Perhaps, the fault lies with the people of the subcontinent who do not pressure their government into finding a peaceful resolution of the issue.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — Contrary to what the editorial, “A strange and antique land”, July 28, says, India’s longest war was the 22-day one with Pakistan in 1965 and not the 14-day 1971 war. Also, the assumption that south India was not even remotely affected is incorrect.
As for official histories of wars India has fought, they have probably been banned from publication and dissemination as they expose the errors in judgment of political leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru created the Kashmir problem — he gifted Pakistan-occupied Kashmir by ordering an unwarranted ceasefire when the Indian army had regained the initiative and was about to attack Muzzafarabad. The Henderson Brooks report on the 1962 Sino-Indian war highlights the incompetence of the Nehru-V.K. Krishna Menon duo that led to India’s humiliation. Similarly, at Tashkent and Shimla, India gave in very easily to Pakistan after convincingly defeating the latter in battle. Finally, the statement, “India, most military historians say, has never fought a war”, is so off the mark as to be the product of a fertile imagination.
Jayasree Shome, Calcutta