Temples of doom
Sir — The report, “Jogi trip sparks shrine clean-up” (August 4), indicates the muck into which Indian politics has shrunk. The devious idea of the Union minister of state for environment, Dilip Singh Judeo, to purify the temples Ajit Jogi visited with Sonia Gandhi, needed to be killed the moment it was conceived. Yet, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership is sitting on it, mulling over what dividends it could beget for the party in Chattisgarh in which it has been virtually sidelined by Jogi’s tribal politics. Quite naturally, Judeo, the former reconversion king of Madhya Pradesh, is trying to back up his plan with a more modest plan of mass reconversion of tribals. There are two ways in which Jogi can stem this sinister tide of affairs — to reassert his tribal, and not Hindu, identity (otherwise he would be playing into Judeo’s hands) and two, to be more serious about the state’s development than his temple-hopping spree.
S. Jena, Calcutta
Sir — Swapan Dasgupta’s article, “Witnessing Ayodhya” (August 1), comes as a grim reminder of the way in which powerful mediapersons have capitulated to the political agenda of Hindutva. It is sad that The Telegraph should expend newsprint on opinions that are motivated, sinister and utterly dishonest. To compare L.K. Advani’s post-Babri predicament with that of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi post-Chauri Chaura is unjust. It would do good to remind the readers that Gandhi’s politics was based on the ethics of non-violence. Advani’s is just the reverse and definitely worse. His agenda, in tune with that of the party he belongs to, is premised on violence in all its connotations. Dasgupta might try to exonerate his hero by mobilizing all his journalistic skills, but to all readers with the slightest power of reasoning, such an exercise can generate nothing but contempt.
Sharmila Sen, Calcutta
Sir — Quite predictably, Swapan Dasgupta mentions only three other leaders in the company of L.K. Advani at the penultimate moment of the fall of the Babri Masjid — Murli Manohar Joshi, Pramod Mahajan and Vijaye Raje Scindia. Joshi and Mahajan are part of the sangh parivar establishment and will not disagree with Dasgupta’s facts. Scindia, incidentally, is dead and cannot contradict Dasgupta. Sadhvi Rithambara has been made the main scapegoat and she is already a discredited sanyasin within the sangh fold, unlike Uma Bharti. But Bharti was also present at the site. Why doesn’t Dasgupta talk about her exhortations to kar sevaks when they pulled down the mosque. Or was she, as Dasgupta probably will have us believe, too shedding tears like Advani'
Jyotirmoy Haldar, Calcutta
Sir — Only months before the general elections, Swapan Dasgupta does not make a particularly flattering comment on the BJP organization. As Dasgupta’s description of that fateful day on December 6, 1992 makes evident, the top BJP leaders were not in absolute control of the movement they had initiated and spearheaded. Much to the horror of L.K. Advani, the kar sevaks had climbed up the three domes of the mosque and, even before he could act, had razed them to the ground.
There is a sage message in Dasgupta’s narrative, that is if he and his saffron mentors care to read it. The saffronites can exploit a sentiment, pitch it high, but cannot claim to have control over it. Playing with religion is like playing with fire. The country’s saffron leaders be warned. Public fury, which has brought them to power piggyback on the mosque fiasco, can also turn against them at any moment.
M. Sikdar, Calcutta
Sir — Given the current fiasco surrounding the Ayodhya issue, should one believe Swapan Dasgupta or the members of parliaments belonging to the opposition party' Dasgupta was one of the witnesses on December 6, 1992 unlike those who are holding Parliament to ransom once again by claiming that the Central Board of Investigation has handed over doctored evidence to the Rae Bareli court (“House to debate CBI ‘misuse’”, August 1). How will they substantiate their claims'
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Sir — The decision of the West Bengal state transport minister, Subhas Chakraborty, to raise car taxes twice in the same month goes against all logic (“Car tax steep' Use bus: Govt”, July 31). Apparently, those who can afford foreign cars, can also pay steep taxes. But why should they be made the scapegoats to fill the state’s empty coffers' Does the government promise to keep roads free of potholes' Chakraborty does not realize that there is a large population of senior citizens and pensioners in the city who have to maintain a car for emergency situations. Should they travel by bus now' The cavalier attitude of ministers like Chakraborty stems from the fact that the left has been in power for too long. Probably, cars allotted to ministers should also be withdrawn to prevent wasteful expenditure, Mr Chakraborty'
Bijit K. Sarkar, Calcutta
Sir — There should be a limit to how much a government can claim by way of taxes. It is understandable that the government has made the power of engines as the changed criterion for evaluating taxation. But why should a separate levy be put on airconditioned cars' Will the government actually pay for its decrepit airconditioned ambassadors that ministers ride on'
Shiv Shanker Almal, Calcutta
Sir — Subhas Chakraborty obviously overlooks some pertinent concerns while imposing the new levy on carowners. The likes of Chakraborty are able to have their cake and eat it too. Being ministers, they do not incur any expenditure for the vehicles they ride on, be it maintenance or road tax or vehicle tax. Hence, they are not affected either by the increase in road taxes or fuel prices. Besides, Chakraborty has no moral right to dictate people to pay the taxes. Why should people pay such a steep road and vehicle tax when the reasons for the payment are not heeded' Does any of the tax money go into maintaining Calcutta’s roads' The complete lack of accountability is astounding.
S. Sen, Calcutta
Sir — I have been reading The Telegraph keenly for the past few years. But the slips are already showing. For example, the train time table published in the “Graphiti” though useful, is not updated regularly. Hence trains like 2509 Sealdah-New Jalpaiguri Express and 3023 Howrah-Gaya Express are missing.
Angsuman Ghosh, Calcutta