This refers to Outlook’s excellent cover package on the Bihar elections (Second Is First Fiddle, November 23) and the box on the Congress’s plight in it and in various bypolls (The Wet Blanket). Truly, in Bihar, the Congress was one big reason that denied the Mahagathbandhan a victory. What has it done in the last seven months, except criticising everything, without giving viable alternatives?
From the PM Cares fund to agriculture laws, it just talks sharp. It criticised the BJP for ‘crony capitalism’ but forgot its own record. Will the Congress stop privatisation and check the rise of crony capitalism? Alas, there is no answer.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
A dismal show in the Bihar assembly polls and in the bypolls in various states shows that the Congress being an alternative to BJP is as good as dead. In fact, Congress stalwart Kapil Sibal—fed-up with the standard “we need to introspect” after every poll debacle in the last six years—has rightly said that only action within a timeframe can help salvage the party’s fortunes. The fact is that vote share of the Congress is dwindling across the country at a fast pace due to directionless and lacklustre leadership. The high command is just unwilling to accept the ground reality. The message in the letter to Sonia Gandhi from top leaders, urging the adoption of a democratic process and recognition of talent to rejuvenate the party, fell prey to machinations of the coterie close to the Gandhi family. The party’s silence shows it does want to elect a non-Gandhi as party chief.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This is about the analysis by Yogendera Yadav on the Bihar elections (Stand On Your Head And Learn). I am perturbed by his oft-repeated “logic of democratic politics”. He goes to the extent of saying that since “most of the soldiers whose lives were lost needlessly on the China border were from Bihar”, the ruling party’s win is surprising! In which democratic country is the sacrifice of soldiers for safeguarding the country’s borders termed ‘needless’? The man seems to be incorrigibly biased.
S.P. Ashta, New Delhi
Portentous events cast an awful shadow. AIMIM, an Islamic party’s electoral success in Bihar with five seats does not augur well for a healthy democracy. The ascendancy of a party with clear, supremacist tones is ominous. The success in Bihar will encourage it in future polls. In those five Seemanchal seats, the anti-BJP Muslim vote, previously split amongst Congress, SP, and BSP, is now consolidated in support of AIMIM. Governments need to take prompt action to prevent the spread of this virus through the body politic. In fact, an Act/Ordinance is necessary to authorise the EC to derecognise political outfits like the Hindu Mahasabha, IUML, AIMIM, Shiromani Akali Dal and so on. Only political parties with a secular socio-political and development agenda should be recognised.
Nitin Majmudar, Lucknow
This is apropos the story about the Trinamool and the BJP in a race to poach Left leaders/workers in West Bengal (Hammer the Sickle, Nov 23). The Bihar elections have set the tone for the blockbuster: battle for Bengal’s 294 assembly seats next year. With the BJP desperate to win, the polls will be watched keenly, if also for the tendency for Bengal’s parties to strike an exasperated and belligerently strident tone at the slightest provocation. More than ever, money and muscle will decide the Bengal elections. Amit Shah, with his able strategists, must be finalising the matrix that will deliver victory. Will it be difficult to disarm Mamata before the EC announces the election timetable? With violence hitting a new high every day, it will not be surprising if polls are held under president’s rule.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
Apropos the cover story on the readiness and possible delivery of the Covid vaccine (The VacScene, Nov16), it’s too early in the day to burst crackers in jubilation for a vaccine, though pharma companies have queued up with their respective vaccine candidates. All of them claim over 90 per cent efficacy. But the question of safety remains, for remember, the average gestation period for a vaccine against a pandemic is 10 years. These vaccines appear half-baked.
George Jacob, Kochi
The column in your cover story (Against Vaccine Nationalism) rightly highlighted that vaccine nationalism is inimical to global health. If countries that have a large number of cases are left behind in terms of access to a vaccine, threat of transmission will remain strong, which in turn will disrupt global supply chains.
The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic is a case in point, in which rich countries entered into a pre-purchase agreement with pharma companies governed by profit motive. It was only later when it subsided and demand for the vaccine dropped, that they agreed to supply doses to developing countries. In an egotistical rat race to earn political dividends countries like the US, Russia, China and England are rushing through vaccines, risking lives of millions. A more cautious and tolerant approach is required—the WHO should play a pivotal role to curb profit motive and ensure equitable distribution.
Vijay Adhikari, Nainital
The 2020 US election was unprecedented in many ways, not least of which is a defeated candidate’s unnatural stand of hanging on to the coat-tails of power (Rites Of Spring, Time To Cure, Nov 23). But seeing Joe Biden win the race to the White House was reassuring. It is a reminder to Donald Trump that the American electorate exercised their votes taking into account his failure on the economic front, handling of the pandemic and withdrawal from the Paris agreement on flimsy reasons. Blaming the poll process is only a ruse to cover up his failures.
Srinivasan Ramaswamy, On email
Donald Trump is gone, but Trumpism is here to stay—I agree with Raza Rumi (Red Alert: Trumpism, Nov. 23). Despite the rage generated by Black Lives Matter movement and Obama’s relentless election campaign against Trump, Cuban-Americans, Afro-Americans and Hispanics in Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan voted for Trump this time in larger numbers. Trump polled 8 million more votes this time than in 2016! However, in a country where voters have never chosen a woman to high office, the election of Kamala Harris as the first woman vice president comes as a whiff of fresh air. Joe Biden now faces the daunting task of handling a pandemic, a flagging economy and uniting a nation divided by race and colour.
Kangayam Narasimhan, Chennai
This is about the article on baby photography (Botticelli with Camera, Nov 16). It was an interesting story but I saw a red rag. As if seeing children act as adults on stage—some even dancing to filmi item numbers—was not enough, we now have women entrepreneurs dressing up seven-day-old infants in their cradles to photograph and make money! Our two children, happily married now, relish the snaps that we had taken as parents wherever we were posted, from Arunachal to J&K and Jaisalmer. Each snap has a story—when, where, how—narrating our joyous moments as parents. Please, let children remain natural. No need to ‘make them up’ for a snap.
Col R.D. Singh (retd), Ambala