This refers to your cover story on the upcoming Bihar assembly elections (Hello Mic Check, October 26). You say there are a few contenders, but many pretenders, and the million-dollar question is whether they can dislodge Nitish Kumar or not. As your story recounts, from 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat polls and speedy trials to putting ‘bahubalis’ behind bars, achieving double-digit growth and taking multiple steps to ensure inclusive development, Nitish’s achievements clearly outnumber his lapses. And that remains, to this date, his biggest strength, and he seems to be sitting comfortably facing little anti-incumbency.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched his campaign on October 23 and will be holding 12 rallies. Nitish will be present in all these rallies. It is an established fact that most of the votes that the BJP gets in any election come in the name of Modi and Bihar is unlikely to be an exception.
However, BJP leaders, including Modi, need to be cautious in raising issues and choosing their words. It may be recalled that irresponsible utterances of Modi and then party president Amit Shah during electioneering were blamed for the party’s defeat in the 2015 Bihar assembly election. Modi had alleged that opposition leaders were conspiring to reduce reservations for Dalits, Mahadalits and OBCs in order to provide it to a particular community. His hint was towards the Muslim community, but his attempt to divide the secular votes turned out to be futile.
Amit Shah’s comment that Pakistan would celebrate with fireworks if the BJP lost the polls was also widely condemned. Comments by other BJP leaders too contributed to turning the tide against the BJP. Political analysts believed RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment on reservation damaged the BJP’s chances in Bihar. As the party ruling the country, the BJP should ensure that its leaders show grace and decency in their words and deeds.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
Paul Appleby was invited by Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, to study Indian administration and recommend reforms. Appleby adjudged Bihar the best-administered state in the country. Over the post-independence decades, on account of rampant casteism and corruption, Bihar reached the nadir of its governance to the extent of becoming a laughing stock. Today, even an ardent optimist can hardly see any light at the end of the tunnel. Let us hope whoever comes to power after the assembly elections would make serious efforts to restore the glory of Bihar’s governance to what used to be when Appleby visited the state.
Nitin Majmudar, Lucknow
Various survey agencies have started coming out with the results of opinion polls conducted by them. However, past experience tells us that almost all such predictions made by psephologists have miserably failed to correctly guess the mood of the electorate. It is, therefore, hoped that this time around they would be able to reach at least somewhere near the bullseye.
Arun Malankar, Mumbai
This refers to your story on the “stately duel” between DMK’S M.K. Stalin and Tamil Nadu CM E.K. Palaniswami of the AIADMK (Locked in a Stately Duel, October 26). After the demise of both the tall leaders—J. Jayalalitha and K. Karunanidhi—in quick succession, the AIADMK and the DMK are not the same anymore. As legacy matters in the DMK more than merit, Stalin, the party’s CM face, has allowed his son and son-in-law a free run in decision-making, making it clear that power with the family has always been the priority of his party even at the cost of overriding pressing issues.
Despite this, the only advantage Stalin enjoys while facing the electorate is that he has worked under the tutelage of Karunanidhi for quite a long time. Palaniswami has an edge over Stalin for having managed the party and the state well, fighting against all odds and coming out unscathed. All said and done, in the absence of Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi, the tussle for power is going to be keen, with both parties leaving no stone unturned to stitch up alliances for emerging victorious.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to your cover story She, the Dalit: Hathras and Beyond (October 19). The sky turned red, yellow and became black, leaving a black moon on its head forever as the body of a 19-year-old Dalit gang-rape victim was burned, not cremated, in the middle of the night, by an uncaring, insensitive and malicious caste-privileged district administration in Hathras, and the sky poured tears of the grieving mother.
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
This refers to your editorial comment (The Hateras and Us, October 19). Your take on the issue is biased as you seem to have leaned towards the leftist manner of reporting an incident. Dalits are Dalits, and it looks like they will always be treated the way they are treated today.
Vishwanath Dhotre, On E-Mail
In these dismal times, it was nice to once again find a journalist writing about what good journalism should be about. The cover story on Dalit women is even more timely. It reminds us, again, that 70 years later, the right to equality enshrined in our Constitution is far from the lived reality of millions of our fellow citizens. In these times of hyper Hindu nationalism, this issue of Outlook provides a much-needed corrective to the idea of New India.
This refers to Inequality Paradox (October 12) in your package on Aatma Nirbhar Bharat. Thirty years of ‘liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation’ have created more inequalities of income, while the policies of successive governments have helped increase the wealth of big business houses and multinational corporations. The article, however, suggests no solutions in this respect. It is better to strengthen our tax system. We should make our tax system more progressive by taxing the super-rich at higher rates and use the revenue for welfare measures to benefit the deprived and the dispossessed. If inequalities are not reduced, then social tensions would get exacerbated and lead to higher crime rates.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
This refers to Sunil Mehra’s Delhi Diary (October 12). What a touching, uplifting, lyrical tribute to the late Sadia Dehlvi, so full of elegance and “sweet reasonableness”—a sweet flower crushed by malign exterior influence, natural and man-made! As King Lear said on the death of his dearest child Cordelia: “Upon such sacrifices, my Cordelia, / The gods themselves throw incence.”
B.M. Bajaj, Gurgaon
Heartiest thanks for publishing a Jail Diary (September 21) by Dr Kafeel Khan. The sordid saga of this most humane doctor depicts the true picture of our administration. We are dumbfounded to see the subdued reaction of doctors’ associations to the illegal detention of a medical practitioner. Are doctors really above caste and religion?
Kushal Chakraborty, On E-Mail
The headline of your story on the Babri Masjid verdict (A Fierce-Eyed Mob, As Gods Wore Blinkers (October 12) is amusing simply because it is really truthful, which is rarely noticed these days in the media.
N. Bhartiya, Goa