The Telegraph
Monday , September 19 , 2011
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fast road

Sir — It is difficult to say whether Narendra Modi’s three-day fast is just another political gimmick (“Halo of politics”, Sept 15). Whatever it may be, his talent for playing to the gallery will never cease to impress his admirers and enrage his detractors. His strongest critics have already ridiculed the Sadbhavana Mission. They believe that if Modi were indeed concerned about communal harmony, then the riots of 2002 would not have taken place. The 2002 carnage was implicitly justified by Modi when he referred to the violence and said that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. However, in 2011, he is fasting to send out the message that hatred cannot be conquered by instiling further hatred.

This transformation on the part of someone who used to take pride in divisive politics, though baffling, is perhaps commendable. Maybe Modi realizes that his political future depends on an image makeover. It is widely believed that Modi has undertaken the fast to project himself as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate for the next general elections.

Modi, however, should not become too complacent. The Supreme Court has not given him a clean chit as yet (“SC hands off, Modi hand-wringing in BJP”, Sept 13). The matter is still sub judice. If Modi genuinely wants to convince people about the sincerity of his motives, then his fast should be devoid of political drama for its entire duration. He should not invite the media to cover the event either.

Yours faithfully,
Pachu Menon, Margao, Goa

Sir — The editorial, “Halo of politics”, states that “there is a world of difference in context and purpose between Gandhi’s fasts and those of Mr Hazare’s or Mr Modi’s”. This has happened because times and perspectives have changed. It is perhaps unfair to condone a particular person’s mode of fasting while condemning another’s. After all, fasting is still a non-violent mode of protest. Mahatma Gandhi, Anna Hazare and Narendra Modi’s fasts may have had different contexts, but all of them aim to promote the people’s welfare. Such fasts have garnered support from a section of the population. One should view the context and purpose of a fast in the correct light in order to judge it unbiasedly. Fasting and fame seem to go hand in hand. But the purpose of a fast should also be kept in mind. The media sensationalize fasts. As a result, the purpose often gets defeated. The media should be careful about their projection of fasts to the people.

Yours faithfully,
R. Subhranshu, Chandernagore, Hooghly

Sir — Narendra Modi did not think of fasting or promoting communal harmony after the tragedies in Gujarat in 2002. His three-day fast is nothing but a political gimmick. This stunt has got precious little to do with the spiritual cleansing of the self. In any case, Modi is remorseless about the bloodshed in Gujarat. So it is unlikely that he would feel the need to purge himself of anything. His fast seems to be designed to kickstart the realization of his dream — to become the prime minister of India after defeating the incumbent government in the next polls.

Yours faithfully,
Md. Aslam Parvez, Calcutta

Bleak phase

Sir — The colossal financial damages caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the huge national debt of the United States of America were inherited by President Barack Obama’s government (“Too little”, Sept 16). Salvaging the collapsing economy was a huge task. Even before the financial crisis in the US became what it is today, the economy was groaning under the weight of an ageing population, combined with the government’s huge social security commitments. The only way out of the mess was to increase taxes drastically or to implement big spending cuts. It is true that in the years since Obama entered office, his administration has neglected the long-term consequences of its corrective measures.

With investment and growth suffering, jobs are scarce. The argument between the Congress and the Obama government has started again. The Congress will want to cut down on expenditure in an economy that needs funds for job creation. The nation needs to unite and look for solutions. However, partisan interests and a disdain for regulations seem to be gaining the upper hand now. The Republican party will be keen to work the nation’s disillusionment to its advantage during the elections in 2012.

Yours faithfully,
R. Narayanan, Ghaziabad

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