Monday, 30th October 2017

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To stand up to the BJP, the Congress needs a tall leader

The Congress remains obsessed with the Gandhi family, as if no leader outside the clan can lead it

  • Published 3.06.19, 6:54 PM
  • Updated 3.06.19, 6:54 PM
  • 3 mins read
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tone changed after the election. During his recent address he spoke of consensus and nation-building by strengthening the federal structure on the basis of constitutional principles (PTI)

Sir — In “After the tsunami” (May 27), Manini Chatterjee has correctly pointed out that there are no full stops in politics. Politics is a continuous process that changes with the changing mindset of the electorate. Political parties that cannot identify these changes are bound to fail in elections.

The Congress remains obsessed with the Gandhi family, as if no leader outside the clan can take up the mantle of leadership. Narendra Modi has exploited this weakness in the Congress. The party’s murky role during the Emergency as well as the charges of corruption during the Congress’s reign provided fodder for Modi’s election campaign strategies that seem to have stirred the aspiring youth.

But Modi’s tone changed during his recent address during which he spoke of consensus and nation-building by strengthening the federal structure on the basis of constitutional principles (“New start”, May 27). If the prime minister and his party believe in these principles, it would augur well for India’s parliamentary democracy.

P.N. Pal,


Sir — The fusion of Hindutva with national pride, implementation of targeted welfare schemes and people’s desire for a stable government, Manini Chatterjee writes, contributed substantially to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s astounding victory under Narendra Modi’s leadership. But one of her contentions — “The challenge before the Congress is not leadership but getting its message and messaging right” — does not quite ring true. The Congress tried to take such issues as corruption, unemployment, agrarian distress, lynching and so on before the voters, but it lost because of its not-so-able leadership. Even though Rahul Gandhi and his party had wrested three states from the BJP earlier, the results of those polls could be attributed to ‘anti-incumbency’ rather than the quality of Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. The Congress president failed to effectively highlight the failures of the government on different fronts. The Congress’s organizational weaknesses compounded the crisis. In order to put up a good fight against a BJP under Modi and Amit Shah, Congress will need a tall leader.

Goutam Narayan Deb,


Trouble ahead

Sir — Theresa May’s resignation had been expected for a while. Her replacement will also face an equally daunting task. That is because Brexit in itself was an incorrect decision.

Economic downturns cause right-wing groups to gain popularity and claim that solution lies in driving out foreigners, closing borders and isolating the nation from ‘parasitic’ international partnerships. Such ultranationalist sentiments were stoked into a frenzy before the Brexit referendum, especially by parties like the UKIP. People were made to believe that leaving the European Union would solve the problems at home.

This has not come true. Britain’s economy is suffering and the pound is not doing well. The EU was never likely to cut a good deal for Britain. The decision to leave the EU needs to be changed. But leaders like Nigel Farage are becoming popular by making inciteful speeches. Another referendum might still yield the wrong result.

Sarbajeet Palit,


Sir — The United Kingdom is in a mess that is the result of political deceit and media disinformation. Three big lies that were disseminated had profound consequences for the people and how they were governed. The first lie was austerity. Politicians and the media convinced the people that the government had to cut spending to prevent a financial disaster. The second lie concerned the threat of immigration. The third pertained to the ‘bureaucrats from Brussels’.

Where did these falsehoods come from and why were they not challenged? The answer lies in neoliberalism and the ruthless desire for power.

Shovanlal Chakraborty,


Sir — Theresa May’s exit compounds problems instead of solving them. The disaffection with the EU is not new. Incidentally, the Labour Party had split in 1975 on a referendum on the common market. Another referendum in 2016 led to the decision to leave the EU. Yet another referendum is plausible too.

Extensions over Brexit would offer a slim opportunity to resolve the crisis. A new prime minister is no guarantee for consensus either. The onus could well shift to the EU to stitch together a lasting compromise formula for progressive coexistence.

But the ascendance of right-wing forces in the European Parliament elections cannot be conducive to the possibility of such a reconciliation.

R. Narayanan,

Navi Mumbai

Unscientific vision

Sir — Some of the choices made by Narendra Modi while distributing ministerial posts have been remarkable. India’s new education minister, an accomplished poet, had once claimed astrology to be a science. One shudders to think what other suggestions Ramesh Pokhriyal would come up with to improve the fate of science education in India. Incidentally, the draft National Education Policy has been unveiled around the time of Pokhriyal’s appointment. One hopes that the minister would refrain from tweaking the draft to suit his singular vision on education.

Akanksha Mitter,