Adding more flesh
Sir — Like cross-border terrorism, cross-border trafficking of women is an undoubted threat to our country. However, this matter, unlike terrorism, has not been given enough attention. Smuggling in women from Nepal’s hill communities is not a new trade (“Job lure leads Nepali girls into nightmare”, June 11). The conditions which prevailed two centuries ago continue to prevail even today. And the government prefers to turn a blind eye to the problem. Yet the ensnaring of young girls and children from across the country in the vast prostitution ring operating in the country could be devastating for India, which is sitting on an AIDS bomb. While the governmental authorities are launching several AIDS awareness projects, it is rather surprising that they have somehow managed to overlook one of the major reasons behind the rise in AIDS cases — unprotected sex among prostitutes. Cutting off one prime supplier to the flesh market can go a long way in combatting the disease.
Nilanjana Haldar, Calcutta
Men of action
Sir— Much has been made of the “vikas-lauh purush” controversy. But the icing came from Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he declared that L.K. Advani would lead the party in the next elections although he was “neither tired nor retired”. The comment immediately won Vajpayee a lot of support in the party, even from die-hard Advani supporters. The media has also tried to project Vajpayee as a magnanimous leader. This perception is however not entirely right.
For one, Vajpayee by handing over the mettle to Advani would not be doing him any favour. Advani is a much more popular leader than Vajpayee. Moreover, there is enough evidence to suggest that Vajpayee is guided by personal interests while taking his political decisions. Remember how K. Govindacharya was alienated for criticizing Vajpayee. Sushma Swaraj had also been dropped from the cabinet after her husband had been critical of Vajpayee’s handling of the Naga situation.
In any ruling party the prime minister is the first among equals. However, for the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is L.K Advani who through his relentless campaign of Hindutva and the Ram temple has brought the party to the masses. The compulsions of coalition politics may have brought Vajpayee to the centre stage. But Advani’s contributions to the party can never be overemphasized.
Tapan Das Gupta, Calcutta
Sir — Who will be the next prime minister of India' The question is bothering the country. The twin mascots of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani, both of whom appear to be pretentious in their political disposition, are confusing the nation. The distinction between “vikas purush” and “lauh purush”, once made, will continue to assail the party. Both the leaders have contributed in their different ways to strengthen the BJP. To create a divide in their relationship is to destroy a bonding that holds the party together. If this process continues, the opposition will reap the benefits.
Jayeeta Sarkar, Dibrugarh
Sir — Atal Bihari Vajpayee has been annointed the supreme leader of the party (“BJP takes iron man off mascot pedestal”, June 4). The dichotomy that emerged with M. Venkaiah Naidu’s statement about “vikas” and “lauh” purush has been put to rest by the party’s decision to go to the elections with Vajpayee as the leader and using his achievements as its prime focus. But the party’s decision will have also put Advani on the backseat. This is undoubtedly an insult to the deputy prime minister who is in no way second to Vajpayee in his importance to the party. The BJP is going through a rough patch. And with the Congress steadily gaining in strength, the coming elections will be a real contest in India’s political history.
T.R. Anand, Calcutta
Sir — It appears strange that a seasoned politician like M. Venkaiah Naidu should need some polish even now after he has spent so many years in politics. Naidu’s faux pas has not only put both the prime minister and his deputy in an embarrassing spot, it has created severe problems for the sangh parivar as well. The BJP president should have known that in politics, where the meaning of every word uttered is twisted, one has to be very careful about what one says.
As a fallout of this controversy, Vajpayee is now the undisputed leader of the BJP as also the present coalition government at the centre. All the leaders of the coalition parties have made it clear that they would support the coalition government only if Vajpayee remained the leader. It would however be wrong to suspect that Vajpayee has taken undue advantage of the controversy to turn the tide in his favour. He had proved his ability even as foreign minister in the Jan Sangh government. It is not for nothing that the world powers pay him so much respect. This was clear during Vajpayee’s recent foreign tour.
Govind Das Dujari, Calcutta
Why follow the line'
Sir — The editorial, “Mad as a hater” (June 11), was on predictable lines. The English language media has been maintaining the same line on the question of illegal settlers — it jumps on anybody trying to suggest a way out of the problem. There has been unabated infiltration of Bangladeshi migrants to Assam and it has reached such a scale that it has changed the demography of six districts of Assam. The country which is not able to feed its own people cannot afford to accommodate millions of refugees. I think Praveen Togadia has every right to make his people conscious of the illegal migrants problem. If India has to drive them out at the cost of jeopardizing Delhi-Dhaka relations, so be it. Unless we do so, given another decade or so, the problem could flare up into the same magnitude as the Kashmir issue has. Kashmiri Pandits are now being driven out of their own lands in the valley.
The English language press had painted Narendra Modi as the worst thing to have happened to Gujarat during the riots. But his success in the assembly elections have disproved them. Perhaps we should stop taking editorials seriously.
Deepak Chikhale, Guwahati
Sir — Tapas Chakraborty’s report on the septuagenarian, Mechiori Fengsai, and her imminent deportation from the country was an eye-opener (“Visa cloud over nirvana mission”, June 10). While we in Assam are forced to cohabit with millions of Bangladeshis who are allegedly illegal settlers, here is one person in Nalanda who wants to be an Indian but her demand is being rejected. Though her marriage to an Indian may not be enough reason to give her an Indian citizenship, Mechiori’s case has to be treated in isolation. She has tried to be a true Buddhist in the land of the Buddha. This effort should be appreciated and she should be left alone. India can do better than try its anti-foreigner acts on a frail lady with a strong head.
Ron Duarah, Dibrugarh