Heaven and hell
Sir — The two reports, “Sombre welcome for poll volunteers”, and “Farooq slams Pak on killing” (Sept 15), present an interesting contradiction. The first shows how people, poll volunteers in this case, from the rest of the country remain far removed from the reality of violence in the valley. The second shows how the reality has suddenly sunk into Farooq Abdullah. The assassination of his close confidante must have come as a shock. With his son in the race, Abdullah must be realizing how close to his family and friends the Pakistan-based militants are venturing to destabilize the poll process. Yet, the polls remain Jammu and Kashmir’s hope of taking the first steps towards normalcy. So while they give people from the plains a breather from the heat, the Kashmir polls, unfortunately, will not provide Kashmiris a respite from violence and bloodshed. No matter how crucial they are for the future of the state.
Aruna Dey Sarkar, Pune
Sir — I object to Mani Shankar Aiyar’s oblique comparison of J. Jayalalithaa to an elephant and his suggestion that she could be exported to Italy (“As Indian as they come”, Sept 12). Instead of asking Jayalalithaa to leave India, Aiyar should perhaps try to convince Sonia Gandhi to try her luck in Italy, especially since he seems so familiar with Italian politics and the preferences of the electorate.
Aiyar rubbishes the American constitution, thinks the Americans are narrow-minded and describes the Indian middle class as “Yankee lickspittle”. But given his expertise on all things Indian, surely Aiyar must be aware that Indian culture demands that he show some respect to the people of other countries, as well as to political rivals like Jayalalithaa'
Aiyar seems to be under the impression that being a politician gives him the right to use bad language and call people names. Perhaps it is time Aiyar tried to unlearn some of his vocabulary so that his column becomes less defamatory and less disrespectful of others.
Sunil Rampuria, Siliguri
Sir — Mani Shankar Aiyar’s concluding remark in “As Indian as they come”, where he justifies Sonia Gandhi’s political legitimacy by showing that she shares her birthday with that of the Constitution, is sycophancy in its ugliest form. Other than her surname, which she inherited through marriage, can Aiyar point out any other qualification that would make Sonia Gandhi a suitable candidate for the post of prime minister' That the Congress could nominate her as its leader is an indication of the mockery that is Indian democracy. Aiyar says, “A little learning is a dangerous thing”. But knowledge by itself does not make a man wise. Knowledge without conscience is more dangerous than little knowledge.
Sunil Nath, Guwahati
Sir — Mani Shankar Aiyar seems to have of late embarked on a one-point agenda of deifying Sonia Gandhi so as to secure a plumb post for himself in the cabinet, if the Congress manages a majority in the next general elections. But Aiyar has little to say in defence of the Congress president except that she is as old as the Indian Constitution.
P. Misra, Calcutta
Sir — J. Jayalalithaa’s tirade against the Congress president was perfectly timed and succeeded in stirring things up in the Congress camp. Being an experienced politician with an incisive grasp on the nuances of coalition politics, she is aware of the fact that given Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s failing health and the troubles faced by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the days of the government are numbered. With Mamata Banerjee struggling for her own political survival and Mayavati having lost most of her earlier fire, Jayalalithaa could well emerge as the undisputed leader of yet another coalition if she plays her cards right by vanquishing Sonia Gandhi, a formidable but vulnerable contender. The “foreigner” bogey has come in handy for her and may still work by splitting the Congress and giving Amma the opportunity to lead the nation.
Kangayam R. Rangaswamy, Madison, US
Sir — What J. Jayalalithaa was trying to point out in Sonia Gandhi’s case was perhaps that the Congress president waited for nearly 15 years to take up Indian citizenship. In fact, her long wait seems to reinforce the suspicion that she was not interested in entering politics as she was unsure how Indians would accept her. The situation changed when Rajiv Gandhi joined politics after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and it became imperative for her to become an Indian citizen.
The Congress contention that L.K. Advani and Manmohan Singh were born outside India, that is, Pakistan, is a illogical. Pakistan was a part of India until August 14, 1947.
B.P. Mohanty, Balasore
Sir — A Fijian of Indian origin, Mahendra Chaudhry, was ousted from power despite being backed by a two-thirds majority in the legislature. The constitutions of many countries debar persons of foreign origin from holding top posts. The founding fathers of the Indian Constitution were probably silent on this issue because they did not envisage a scenario where a foreigner would become the leader of India’s oldest party.
Samir Banerjee, New Delhi
Sir — Sonia Gandhi has successfully rejuvenated the Congress. She has embraced Indian culture and adapted to it. Surely, one does not need any more proof of her patriotism'
Rajdip Mukherjee, Jalpaiguri