Sir — The editorial, “Other trials” (Dec 18), has poignantly highlighted the challenge faced by the people of Bangladesh at a time when the country is on the cusp of much-needed change and economic progress. During last year’s elections, Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s government had scrapped the 15-year-old caretaker government system following a supreme court ruling that Bangladesh’s constitution allows only popularly elected governments. Now opposition parties fear that the next elections will be rigged if the ruling party stays in power. The government has blamed the opposition for the recent violence, saying that the protests are aimed at protecting the 1971 ‘war criminals’, whom it intends to put on trial. The administration has vowed not to go back to the caretaker government.
The opposition, led by Khaleda Zia, continues to show sheer callousness towards democratic principles by refusing to adopt positive steps such as parliamentary dialogue to resolve the impasse.
Sujan Bhattacharjee, Calcutta
Sir — Bangladesh always celebrates its Victory Day with due dignity. That day is for rejoicing, remembering and also for paying tribute to the nearly three million hapless people who lost their lives seeking release from the bondage of West Pakistani military rulers. But, as the editorial rightly says, this year’s celebration had a portentous ring to it. A coalition of 18 opposition parties enforced a strike to demand that the caretaker government be restored before the next national elections, due in 2014. A key coalition partner is also pressing for the release of its leaders facing charges of crime against humanity committed during Bangladesh’s liberation war against Pakistan in 1971. The protest is led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, headed by Khaleda Zia.
The prime minister and her government stands accused of not conceding to the demands of the opposition parties that has resulted in the ongoing turmoil. The opposition’s demand that the country’s forthcoming polls be conducted under a caretaker government is well in order. At the same time, resorting to violence is no way of registering protest in a democracy.
P.B. Saha, Calcutta
Sir — Political stability in a neighbouring country like Bangladesh is important for India. India has played a significant role in shaping the history of Bangladesh. The birth of the country may not have been possible if India had not provided logistic support to Bangladesh’s freedom struggle against West Pakistan in 1971. Unfortunately, even after gaining independence, Bangladesh could not progress economically. As a result, poverty, illiteracy and unemployment have increased alarmingly, destroying the social balance of the country. Several coups after independence, often instigated by religious fundamentalists, have destroyed the secular fabric of the country.
Sheikh Hasina Wajed’s Awami League is the only secular minded political party in Bangladesh. Wajed has acknowledged India’s contribution to her country’s freedom struggle by bestowing honours on India at the Victory Day celebrations in Dhaka. As the editorial rightly says, it is time for “Bangladesh’s leaders to pause and ponder where the country is headed.”
Mihir Kanungo, Calcutta
Sir — The editorial, “Growth wins” (Dec 21), has aptly said that Narendra Modi’s victory in the recent elections can be attributed to the economic development and rapid industrialization that took place during his tenure. The election results in Gujarat have also proved that development, and not cheap populism, matters to the electorate. Although Modi has been severely criticized for the Godhra incident, yet voters have elected him to power for the third term in the hope that he will usher in more prosperity in the course of his next term.
For his detractors, Modi’s reign is overshadowed by the Hindu-Muslim riots that had torn his state apart in 2002. Critics accuse him of not doing enough to stop the violence or of even quietly encouraging it — allegations he has always denied. But these have not stopped him from winning successive elections, lending credence to his popularity as an effective economic manager. West Bengal has been lagging behind in the field of economic development from the time of the rule of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Down the years, many industrial units have moved to other states from West Bengal. Although there has been a change in leadership now, there is still no visible economic progress. Rapid industrialization is necessary for the well-being of the state. Taking a cue from Modi, the present chief minister should concentrate on creating a conducive atmosphere for industry.
Jayanta Mukherjee, Calcutta
Sir — The victory of Narendra Modi does not come as a surprise. The Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party bagged 116 seats in the 182-member state assembly, falling just one seat short of its elections tally in 2007, and defeating the Congress. Modi is a true politician and a shrewd businessman. Clearly, the main factor that worked for Modi was his personal charisma. The Congress had no candidate to match Modi’s stature. Nevertheless, for Modi to win three times is a fabulous achievement. But he may have to take a more inclusive approach in the future.
Mahesh Kapasi, New Delhi