Problem of emphasis
Sir — Why has The Telegraph given front page coverage to the West Bengal finance minister’s fitness regimen (“If only health were wealth”, October 23)' Everyone wants to read about what our celebrities are like in their private lives. Even so, such information is more often than not hidden away in the supplements or the gossip pages . Perhaps the report was a reminder to Asim Dasgupta that he should take as good care of the state’s finances, as he does of himself. If it was meant as a dig at the two cars that accompany the minister on his evening constitutional, or the auto-rickshaws that are diverted along his route, then it is a little unfair. After all it is in the nature of Indian politicians that they never follow what they preach. The left, in spite of all protestations, is not above taking advantage of the small perks of political office — the red light jumped, the traffic cleared by obsequious policemen. Yet more evidence of the left leaders’ hypocrisy hardly merits the front page.
Chandra Barman, Calcutta
While Kashmir burns
Sir — The Congress and the People’s Democratic Party had better resolve their differences in Jammu and Kashmir fast, or they will end up betraying the mandate that the people of the state have given them. Worse, by dithering much longer over the issue, they might be playing into Farooq Abdullah’s hands. The former chief minister, who had initially said that the National Conference would not stake its claim, has since indicated that he is keeping his options open.
One thing is for certain, the National Conference definitely does not have the people’s mandate. And why not — its actions have hardly been of the kind to win the trust of the people. Every election held under the party’s rule has been accused of being rigged. Farooq Abdullah has not done anything to address the grievances of the Kashmiris or the state’s worsening economy. Things have deteriorated further after the advent of militancy in the mid-Eighties. Instead, in order to remain in power, Abdullah has begun aligning with parties at the Centre, be it the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In the circumstances, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed seems to be the best candidate for chiefministership. The one blot on his career, the fact that he had, as Union home minister, facilitated the release of five militants to secure the freedom of his daughter, Rubaiya, can be overlooked in the light of his genuine concern for the problems of the Kashmiris. Moreover, he is a Kashmiri. In contrast, Ghulam Nabi Azad only reluctantly returned to Kashmir to head the state unit of the Congress. He has never really been a charismatic leader and never contested elections from the state. The Congress victory in the state should be interpreted more as a negative vote against the National Conference and the BJP, rather than as a positive vote for the oldest political party in the country.
N. Narasimhan, Bangalore
Sir — The impasse between the Congress and the PDP over who should be chief minister is depriving the people of Jammu and Kashmir of a legitimate government. In the ensuing political confusion, even relative small fry, like Bhim Singh of the Panther’s Party, are talking of becoming chief minister. Given how important Kashmir is for India internationally, the state needs a chief minister who is experienced, something of a statesman and most important, a unanimous choice. He could be from the valley or from any other part of the state.
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — The people of Jammu and Kashmir had shown tremendous courage by braving the threats from militants to come out to vote in these assembly elections. They thus reaffirmed their faith in the Indian Constitution and in Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. But now when it is time for the political parties to show themselves worthy of the faith reposed in them, it is sad to see the Congress playing spoilsport. As a senior coalition partner, it should take the initiative to resolve the deadlock. It should allow Mufti Mohammad Sayeed to become chief minister since an overwhelming majority of the people of Jammu and Kashmir feel that only a chief minister from the valley would best represent their interests.
Samir Banerjee, New Delhi
Sir — The stalemate in Jammu and Kashmir has revealed the political opportunism and greed for power of the Congress and the PDP. They don’t care that the present deadlock is pushing the state into further uncertainty or even that the political turmoil will benefit Pakistan which could take the opportunity to launch fresh attacks in the state.
R. Sekar, Angul
Sir — Who can forget how Mufti Mohammad Sayeed gave a boost to terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir when he forced the government to release five militants in exchange for his daughter in 1989' Besides, the PDP chief is known to have a soft corner for separatists. In the circumstances, he is hardly suitable for the delicate job of chief minister.
R. Sajan, Aluva, Kerala
Sir — I rang up 1501 to get information about my telephone bill. A recorded voice informed me that there was a problem and advised me to contact the section supervisor on 221-4900. On calling the number I was told that it had been changed and that I should contact 1951 for more information. On trying 1951, I was again told that it had no information regarding the changed number. Is this the kind of service a public utility should provide'
Rajiv Dhall, Calcutta
Sir — Cellular call rates have been going down fast lately. But what is surprising is that it is the public sector Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited which is giving private operators a run for their money. Its latest offer, CellOne country-wide service, pegs the cost of a cell phone call to a low of Rs 1.25, in addition to a monthly rental of Rs 225. BSNL must be congratulated for providing excellent and user-friendly service to the public.
D.V. Vamsee Krishna, Bhubaneswar