This refers to your cover story on the farmers’ protest affecting a core social base of the ruling BJP (Running on Jat Fuel, February 15). Muzaffarnagar is still alive, not just in the ‘Jatland’ (western Uttar Pradesh and adjoining Haryana), but far beyond it—in the entire agrarian belt of the region at least, if not the whole country, where the BJP shrewdly exploited differences between castes and religions, polarising voters on these lines to win the kingdom. The ruling dispensation is jittery as history’s largest and most peaceful protest by farmers seems to have successfully overcome this division, with protestors coming together as farmers despite caste and religious differences among themselves. Now that the BJP is deploying the same old time-tested strategy in West Bengal, will the people there fall for it?
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
This refers to your cover story on “fly-by-night micro-lenders offer instant credit” (The Loan Apps Trap, February 8). Suicides following defaulting on repayment of loans taken from them show that the fraudsters are abusing technology for harassing the gullible and pushing them into a dangerous path. They are appropriately called “loan sharks”. It is shocking to know that many in industry, state agencies and media knew about the grand scam by the app-based fraudsters, but their actions were limited to see that they did not act in future and there were no sustained efforts to stop the fraud. It is also shocking to know that Indians had the largest number of installs for such apps in the Asia-Pacific region, while Google Play Store and Apple Apps allowed smartphone users to access these apps owned, controlled and managed by Chinese nationals. The government needs to do more than banning the apps and other lame-duck exercises.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to Space for All on This Flag Pole (February 8), your story on the violence on Republic Day during the farmers’ protest. There is no space for all at the Red Fort’s iconic flagpole, which is used by the prime minister to hoist the national flag on Independence Day. When a protestor hoists a religious flag at the flagpole or a farmer drives his tractor into a police barricade, they are committing acts of violence, not opposing the farm laws. The leaders of the farmer unions should find out who hoisted the religious flag at the Red Fort and who allowed the Nihangs to threaten the police with swords and spears. When an organised protest is already going on at the borders of the national capital, what was the need for a tractor rally on Republic Day?
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
This refers to an item in The News (Later, they Decided, February 8). Apart from being topically satirical, it gives us the sum and substance of the pitiable condition of the oldest surviving political organisation in India, which was founded in the 19th century on the foundation of patriotism, and has had 61 illustrious personalities as its presidents and deep roots all over the country where many younger parties are yet to fix their poles in some corner. Most parties are one-man shops. The elaborate constitution of the Congress and its procedures for appointing office-bearers have always been transparent to the public. The grand old party cannot be presented as “headless” by juggling with words like “regular”, “interim” and “not elected” president; it is fully functional while observing civilised democratic principles. What is wrong in prioritising the assembly elections due in five states in the months ahead? The BJP has dug in its heels to build the largest democracy sans opposition in the world. Its brazen arrogance of electoral majoritarianism, repressive authoritarianism and religion-based hyper-nationalism has crossed all civilised norms of governance. The Congress must not waver from its age-old principles of all-inclusive secularism and welfare of the people. It should cleanse itself of past sins instead of indulging in cheap gimmicks such as visiting temples.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
This refers to your story from West Bengal on the “turf war over using Netaji” Subhas Chandra Bose (In His Mantle Lies a Political Gold Mine, February 8). The manner in which Netaji’s birth anniversary was celebrated in poll-bound West Bengal was representative of Indian politics at its nadir. Both PM Narendra Modi and his bête noire CM Mamata Banerjee sang paeans to a diehard anti-communal visionary who would have turned in his grave when shouts of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ rent the air at Victoria Memorial.
George Jacob, Kochi
Netaji was a patriot and does not need anybody’s validation for his acts of courage. CM Mamata Banerjee was picture of poise and courteousness, respecting the visiting dignitary in the true tradition of athithi devo bhava. Even though she was irked by slogans not becoming of a government-sponsored function, she chose to be quiet. The dignitaries should have advised the audience to refrain from such behaviour. Civility and etiquette is what guide us to be polite and gracious. It is distressing to see the erosion of civility towards fellow citizens. Civility is the lubricant that keeps our society running smoothly. It is important for us to be correct role models for the next generation.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, commander of the Indian National Army, was a great freedom fighter and is above politics. Despite sharp differences with Mahatma Gandhi, he fondly addressed Gandhi as the father of the nation. Netaji’s legacy is far greater than both the BJP and the TMC. It is shameful that an important event was marred due to Mamata Banerjee reacting angrily to chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ shouted by a section of the crowd. Both Modi and Mamata did not bring up substantive issues relevant to honouring Bose’s legacy and instead resorted to gimmicks.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad