Sarfraz Ahmed's excuse for his racist remark is worse than no apology
Sir — The Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, has been able to keep the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party on their toes for some time now. He has raised issues that have struck a chord with the common people. Consequently, the Grand Old Party has got a new lease of life. Rahul Gandhi’s recent decision to give his sister, Priyanka Gandhi, a formal role within the party can turn out to be another such masterstroke. Priyanka Gandhi has been appointed the general secretary of the Congress in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Till now, Priyanka Gandhi has been a sort of an enigma in Indian politics. In the past, she has, on a few occasions, plunged into the hurly-burly of electioneering. But she did not formally join politics. During election campaigns, Priyanka Gandhi drew sizeable crowds. However, critics often say that people might have been interested in seeing her since she bears a striking resemblance to her late grandmother, Indira Gandhi. They allege that her campaigning did not really help the Congress gain votes.
Now that Priyanka Gandhi has a formal role in the party, she must work hard to prove her credentials. Priyanka Gandhi cannot afford to remain just an enigma anymore.
Sir — Priyanka Gandhi has chosen the right time to join politics. She is still young and this will help her develop a rapport with young voters. More than 65 per cent of the population in the country is under the age of 35, and these voters are going to play a crucial role in the forthcoming general elections. There are also speculations that she might contest the Raebareli Lok Sabha seat. It would be a pleasant surprise if these turn out to be true.
I have a feeling that women leaders are more aware of the needs of the masses. For this reason, Priyanka Gandhi’s decision to join politics is even more welcome.
Sir — The appointment of Priyanka Gandhi as the Congress general secretary for eastern UP has made the BJP jittery. As it is, the saffron party was apprehensive about its prospects in the next general elections.
If only the Congress had taken the decision to bring Priyanka Gandhi into politics in 2014 itself, the nation might not have had to put up with five years of the Narendra Modi-led regime.
Tharcius S. Fernando,
Sir — The Congress, it so appears, cannot look beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Now that it has made Priyanka Gandhi a general secretary of the party, the BJP would, quite naturally, accuse the Congress again of perpetuating dynastic rule. To become a serious challenger to the BJP, the Congress needs more support on the ground. It would do well to concentrate on building the party from the grass roots rather than pin all its hopes on the Gandhis.
Sir — The decision to make Priyanka Gandhi the general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh is erroneous. She lacks clout outside the Gandhi pocket-boroughs of Raebareli and Amethi. It is, therefore, doubtful if she would be able to mount an effective campaign for the Congress in this crucial region. For many years now, the Congress has had to face accusations that there is not enough internal democracy within the party and that it is always eager to offer leadership roles to the members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. From this episode, it is clear, once again, that the critics do have a point.
Sir — Priyanka Gandhi has been given the responsibility to look after the interests of the Congress in eastern UP. This move, with only a few months to go before the general elections, is a wise one. With Priyanka Gandhi by his side, Rahul Gandhi would feel more emboldened to take on his political rivals. However, his real test will be in dealing with the regional parties that are now trying to cobble together an anti-BJP coalition. There are many prime-ministerial aspirants in this motley group, and they can create trouble for the Congress as well.
Ashok Kumar Ghosh,
Sir — The Congress seems to think that by bringing Priyanka Gandhi into mainstream politics, it has played a trump card. But I do not think this will change the fortunes of the Congress overnight. Certainly, Priyanka Gandhi has no magic wand to change the entire dynamic of politics within a short span. The lack of an effective organisation and support bases will continue to haunt the party in the northern state.
Sir — The Pakistan cricket captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, made an allegedly racist comment during the second one-day international against the Proteas in Durban. Ahmed’s rant seems to have been directed against the South African pacer, Andile Phehlukwayo. His comments were caught on the stump microphone. The skipper later tweeted a dubious apology for his conduct. Ahmed has stated that the comment was an “expression of frustration which was unfortunately caught by the stump mic”. This is worse than not apologising at all.