Sir — The voters of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have not only dealt a blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party but also opened a comeback trail for the Congress. The results from the ‘heartland’ may have boosted the Congress’s morale. But then the loss of its last bastion in the Northeast — Mizoram — and the routing of the Prajakutami — the grand alliance featuring the Congress, Telugu Desam Party, Communist Party of India and Telangana Jana Samithi — in Telangana must lead to some soul-searching. The Congress’s performance will consolidate Rahul Gandhi’s position within the party and lend him a strong voice in national politics.
After Narendra Modi came to power, the BJP had trampled over the Congress in almost every electoral confrontation. But Rahul Gandhi and his trusted soldiers have proved that the Congress is still in the race. Modi should introspect whether abusing opponents has helped him and his party reap dividends. It remains to be seen whether the Congress can sustain the momentum of its triumph till the general elections of 2019.
Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee,
Sir — The results of the assembly elections in five states mark the end of the unipolar politics that is desirable to Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. The BJP is no longer the ruling party across a wide arc in the country. In spite of the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan as well as discernible rural unrest, the BJP did not quite roll over with ease. Significantly, the Congress’s performance was the most impressive in Chhattisgarh where it lost almost its entire leadership in a deadly Maoist ambush some years ago. But it struggled to win an absolute majority in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh where it persisted with old warhorses. In Mizoram, it paid the price for shoddy governance, while in Telangana its alliance with a party that had opposed the formation of the state was injudicious. The Congress had stitched up a coalition in Karnataka but failed to do so in the Hindi-heartland states. This goes to show that the road ahead may not be that smooth for the party. But the poll results undoubtedly signal a thumbs down for Modi’s record in governance.
Sir — The editorial, “Game on” (Dec 12), presented a correct analysis of the political situation of the country after the conclusion of the assembly elections in five states. The results have jolted the ruling dispensation in its ‘impregnable’ Hindi heartland. By winning Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the Congress has regained much of its lost ground.
The BJP’s over-reliance on Hindutva and its reluctance to follow the principle of pluralism in a diverse country like India can be cited as the reasons for its failure at the hustings. Yet another factor is the BJP’s tirade against the Nehru-Gandhi family. The prime minister’s allusion to Sonia Gandhi as a widow was in poor taste. After its convincing performance, the Congress under Rahul Gandhi would pose a challenge to the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.
Sir — The politics of falsehood and hatred cannot work for long. The BJP must learn lessons from its defeat. In its arrogance, the BJP chose to ignore the demands of farmers and small businessmen. It chose to deplete its energies on Ayodhya and the renaming of cities. The BJP would have done better if it had worked to meet the people’s demands. This is equally a defeat of the kind of politics endorsed by the party. While the Congress deserves to be congratulated, it must learn from the BJP’s losses and remember to honour the promises that it made.
Md. Saquib Anwar,
Sir — The BJP must reform its policies and think of the interests of the aam aadmi. It should stop adopting coercive methods to implement its ideas and policies. The talk of sabka saath sabka vikas has remained on paper only. Fighting an election on a religious agenda is detrimental to India.
Sir — In these elections, the BJP did not do too badly; the Congress did not do as well as it was expected to do either. In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP lost to the Congress by a slender margin. In Rajasthan, voters seldom re-elect a dispensation. Moreover, the argument that the BJP lost on account of demonetization and the goods and services tax is incorrect. The party had won the elections in Uttar Pradesh after demonetization with a stunning majority. Parliamentary polls are fought on national issues. Judging their outcome at this point of time is illogical.
Sir — Remaking Saudagar, the film in which Amitabh Bachchan played a nolen-gur seller, would have been a challenge today. Nolen gur, coveted by sweet-toothed Bengalis during winter, is not available easily these days. Sweetmeat sellers are finding it difficult to prepare such delicacies as the jolbhora sandesh. Apparently, there are not enough people willing to work as collectors of date palm juice. Climate change, which has resulted in feeble winters, is another impediment. Would the scarcity of nolen gur finally force Bengalis to take notice of the changing climate?