The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Letters to Editor

Talk, don’t rant

Sir — The “special meeting” of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s minorities’ cell was a very special one indeed. Not the least because its chief guest was Praveen Togadia (“Togadia spits fire at BJP meet”, Sept 28). Little wonder then that Togadia made good use of the platform to publicly announce that he didn’t like Muslims, and that they should give up their “allegiance to ‘Muslim invaders’ and accepted Rama, Krishna and Shiva as their ancestors”. Communal relations in India have reached a nadir anyway — no one needs a Togadia to make matters worse with his intemperate comments. The real solution to the Ayodhya problem lies in a dialogue, a two way affair — one-sided harangues by the likes of Togadia will take us nowhere. But perhaps nothing more can be expected of a meeting called with the ominous objective of coaxing Muslims to forsake their stand on Ayodhya, “to make peace with the Hindus” and “to live happily thereafter”'

Yours faithfully,
Brinda Sen, Calcutta

A touch unfair

Sir — Ashok V. Desai raises a pertinent question — “Are the Bengalis touchy” (Sept 9)' To be fair, however, Bengalis are also tolerant even if they are touchy. This cannot be said of Desai’s fellow Gujaratis who revealed their ugly side some time back in the riots that followed Godhra.

West Bengal has its share of strengths and flaws. It has been a victim of bad politics that drove away investors. But the fact that Bengal has a fairly good communal record is conveniently forgotten by many. There have been many incidents of communal violence in recent years which have led to retributive violence in many parts of the country, but Bengal has remained relatively calm. The plight of the Gujarat riot victims was reported in the national media, but it was only in this much-maligned state that Qutubuddin Ansari found refuge.

In citing Gujarat’s example before going on to express disdain at West Bengal, one fact did not occur to Desai. How is it that no one objects when the butcher of Gujarat seeks industrial investment in his state, while Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s protests against what the prime minister said amuses and angers Desai' Is it because he is an inherently-biased Gujarati who finds pleasure in nitpicking'

Yours faithfully,
Amarendra Bijoy Biswas, Kharagpur

Sir — If Ashok V. Desai was writing about Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s response to the prime minister’s speech, why did he have to bring up Gujarat' He is fair in his assessment of Godhra and its aftermath, but that has nothing to do with what he writes about later. He is certainly entitled to his opinion, but a seasoned columnist like Desai should be more focussed when writing on a particular subject.

Yours faithfully,
Soumya Bhattacharya, Calcutta

Sir — Many of the Left Front’s policies may be justifiably criticized. But no one can question the justice of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s rebuttal of the prime minister’s criticism of the “deteriorating situation” in the state. Desai is too busy asking run-of-the-mill questions about why investments have skipped Bengal or why businesses have left the state. Businesses are managed by industrialists, and there is no reason why they should not share some of the blame for failing to rein them in. One has seldom heard of labour trouble in big companies like ITC, Tata, Indian Aluminium or Haldia Petrochem.

At least Bengal has a stable government and is not ruled by someone like Narendra Modi. Besides, it is a good thing that Bengalis are touchy, but they are also educated, tolerant and cultured. That is something to feel good about.

Yours faithfully,
Probirkumar Mitra, Calcutta

Heritage house

Sir — Bishop’s House is a listed heritage building. The Calcutta Municipal Corporation has even put up one of its attractive red and yellow signposts to point it out at 51, Chowringhee Road, just opposite its elder sister building, St Paul’s Cathedral. While not exactly Siamese twins, this pair was literally “made for each other”. It would be a travesty of history to destroy one and leave the other building standing alone (“Highrise to oust Bishop House”, Sept 13).

One wonders what the CMC heritage committee’s role is in this connection. If a heritage building has been listed as such, then how can it be taken off that list a few years later (when it is even older and more “historical”)' A similar situation arose several years ago with regard to Sir Elijah Impey’s house at the entrance to Loreto College on Middleton Row. There was talk of tearing it down in order to put up a more utilitarian structure. Better sense (and public opinion) prevailed and the entire original building was lovingly repaired and made good use of for various non-commercial church activities.

Surely, the citizens of Calcutta can rise to the occasion and raise whatever funds Bishop P.S.P. Raju needs in order to preserve his house and our landmark. I have been told (and it is obvious to anyone walking past the building) that Bishop Raju has refused permission for any repairs to the building for the past few years. There is even a resident corporation garbage wheelbarrow in the garden. Furthermore, we have heard that a number of graves at St John’s Church in Dalhousie (the Bishop’s current residence) has been dug up.

Yours faithfully,
Mary Ann Dasgupta, Calcutta

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