Sir — The popular social media platform, Instagram, might soon get rid of the feature in which the number of ‘likes’ a post gets is visible to one’s followers. Instead, a ‘private like count’ feature, in which only the person creating the post can see the number of ‘likes’, may be added. This is supposed to reduce stress for those who feel the pressure of getting more visible ‘likes’ on their posts. But will this measure help achieve the desired result? Moreover, the popularity of social media platforms — Instagram and Facebook, for instance — depends on factors such as the visibility of ‘likes’ and ‘follower’ counts.
Sir — In the article, “Too many blunders” (June 1), Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has highlighted some political realities in the aftermath of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s overwhelming triumph in the Lok Sabha elections. One of these is the threat of the Trinamul Congress being ousted in West Bengal in the assembly elections in 2021. The people of the state seem to have forgiven Narendra Modi for not delivering on his promise to credit the account of every Indian citizen with 15 lakh rupees, and forgotten the fallouts of demonetization, the hurriedly-implemented goods and services tax and the growth of the Hindutva agenda. At the same time, they seem to have begun viewing religious minorities as a threat.
Is the chief minister of Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, paying the price for her purported arrogance? When the TMC came to power in 2011, the sole credit for the victory was given to her, whereas the supportive role played by the Congress was denied. Additionally, the politics of appeasement had reared its head in the form of doles, while the legitimate dearness allowances of state government employees were being denied under the pretext of financial troubles. In such a situation, the BJP started making clear divisions among the electorate along communal lines. This contributed to it winning as many as 18 seats in Bengal.
Moreover, the large-scale violence during the last panchayat elections in Bengal could have strengthened the resolve of other political parties to teach the ruling dispensation a lesson during the Lok Sabha polls. Perhaps the Left hoped that the rise of the BJP would unseat Banerjee, after which its own fortunes would improve. But given the BJP’s supremacy at the Centre and its growing clout in Bengal, such aspirations will not be realized.
Banerjee, however, had sensed the gradual loss of support, which is perhaps why she had taken some measures to combat it — for instance, she promised to pay Rs 380 to Brahmin priests at burning ghats for every cremation — but her actions came a little too late. The syndicate raj and anti-incumbency trends, among other factors, dealt big blows to her popularity.
Now, on account of her knee-jerk reactions to new developments in the state, the chief minister’s political maturity is being questioned. She is allowing the taunts of BJP supporters to get to her, and is behaving in a manner that is unbecoming of a leader. One still hopes that her years of experience in politics will help her sustain a healthy relationship between the Centre and the state. This will benefit her politically as well as help the development of the state.
Sir — The results of the recently-concluded Lok Sabha elections have not gone down well with Mamata Banerjee. Declining the invitation to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister was a choice she was free to make. But she reportedly did so because invitations were sent to the families of the BJP workers who, the party says, died in poll violence in Bengal. In this manner, she portrayed herself in an unfavourable light.
As a feisty political personality, Banerjee had achieved the unthinkable by ousting the Left Front and keeping the Congress at bay in the state. But the cracks are now beginning to show, as she is losing ground to the BJP as the assembly elections draw closer. It is now up to the chief minister to put her administration in order and exercise her authority well in the state.
Sir — Sunanda K. Datta-Ray has pointed to many important problems in West Bengal’s politics. The BJP’s victory in 18 seats was unthinkable, given the TMC’s famed iron grip over the state. These surprise victories must be attributed to the hard work of the state BJP leaders. In spite of that, many members of parliament from the state, including the BJP state president, were not given ministerial berths at the Centre. This shows that the Centre has little regard for the achievements of the state leadership. Removing violence from Bengal politics must now be the first priority of all political parties.