This refers to your cover story on the BJP’s fight for five states (Operation Akhil Bharatiya, March 22). The rise of the BJP is easily traced to the downfall of the Congress. Wherever there had been strong alternatives to the Congress, the BJP could not advance much. Erosion of the Congress’ grassroots base due to dynastic politics at the top provided the BJP many low-hanging fruits to grab. The BJP, on the other hand, got much grassroots support from the RSS through its trained and devoted cadre on the ground. Once the party came to power in the Centre with an absolute majority, Modi grabbed the opportunity to strengthen this hold. Presently, the BJP is passing a “there is no alternative” phase. Its real test will come when another organisation emerges with a strong base among the downtrodden masses and dares to challenge it. The nation has to wait for that.
S.P. Ashta, New Delhi
Since its formation in 1980, the BJP has not looked back, and gone from strength to strength. However, it is not really an all-India party—something that the Congress used to be, at least until the 1960s. As the BJP is yet to conquer the South and the East, the upcoming assembly elections in five states are very crucial for India’s ruling party. It appears that its main focus will be on Assam and West Bengal, where its precursor Jana Sangh won four seats in the 1952 assembly polls. In the others states, particularly in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it will concentrate on increasing its voteshare. In Assam, it will have to fight anti-incumbency and people’s sentiments against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. In Bengal, where it won only three seats in the last assembly elections, its hopes got a fillip in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, where it won 18 of the 42 seats. The party should remember that assembly elections are a different ballgame as local issues play a significant role.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
Politics is palpably peaking in West Bengal in the run-up to the mother of all elections. The catch-phrase in Bengali—‘Khela hobe’ (Let us play the game)—is on everyone’s lips and captures the electric atmosphere prevailing in the poll-bound state. The TMC and the BJP appear to be the main contenders for power. Still, in the triangular contest, the Left-Congress alliance may make unexpected gains and bear on the electoral fortunes of the other two parties. Tactical voting by people could decisively determine the results. The election is being closely watched across the country as an ideological battle between Hindutva and secularism (perceived as the biggest threat to India’s traditions by the likes of Yogi Adityanath). The conflict is amplified by the use of the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant as a war cry to polarise voters along religious lines. This election is crucial as it will decide if Bengal remains multihued or turns saffron. PM Narendra Modi’s promise of ‘asol poriborton’ (real change) is in contradiction to the kind of change he has brought about at the national level, making life more miserable for everyone except his corporate friends. No wonder, Didi’s ‘from Ujjwala to jumla’ jibe finds an echo in the hearts of voters. The BJP has to fear not just Didi, but the red-coloured cardboard replicas of LPG cylinders too.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode (Tamil Nadu)
This refers to your cover story How Political Is Our Judiciary? (March 1). While each column in the package is thought-provoking, I am particularly concerned with Collegium Collateral Damage by Amal K. Ganguli. The senior advocate rightly points out that before the emergence of the collegium system, outstanding judges like V.R. Krishna Iyer and Sabyasachi Mukharji were appointed to the Supreme Court by the wisdom of the then government in power. He concludes: “It is difficult to imagine if under the prevailing system of appointment of judges by the collegiums, a boldly ideological judge like Justice Krishna Iyer would have made it to the bench of the Supreme Court.” He goes on to repeat this contention in the context of Justice Mukharji. However, while the two examples he cites support his conclusion, generalising from that may be somewhat fallacious. In fact, in the pre-collegium era, appointments to the higher judiciary used to depend on the subjective opinion of the prime minister, the law minister or some other influential minister in the cabinet. As with all subjective opinions, they may be objectively right on many occasions, but wrong on others. Several deserving judges who would have enriched the Supreme Court were ignored due to such subjective decisions. As such, while the collegium system may not be free from faults, it would be wrong to conclude that the earlier practice of leaving it to the discretion of the executive would be preferable in the interest of ‘We the People’.
P.K. Ghosh, Calcutta
This refers to your cover story on the Delhi Police (The Case Diary, March 8). The most telling yardstick of a nation’s maturity and confidence in its foundations is the manner in which its government responds to dissent and differences of opinion among people. In this respect, modern India has failed miserably. It stands exposed as a nation with no belief in itself, its Constitution and the dreams spun by her founding fathers that still form her bedrock. Delhi Police’s handling of farmers’ and anti-CAA protests places India alongside China, which is infamous for the massacre at Tiananmen Square.
George Jacob, Kochi
This refers to your cover story on small-town entrepreneurs (Vikas Ban Gaya Millionaire, March 15). Profiles of Vikas Mishra of ‘Trip To Temples Tourism’, Varanasi, Anil Kumar of ‘New Dadaji Steel House’, Patna, and others will foster a positive attitude among unemployed and under-employed youth who feel their talents are wasted every day. These stories will motivate them to provide some service to others by putting their limited resources to use by bringing their latent entrepreneurial skills to the fore. Capital is key to any business; in case they are short of capital, interest-free loans can be tactfully managed from banks that are ready to get defrauded. However, such successes cannot be sustained and multiplied without state patronage, and that is why even those with established empires of entrepreneurship regularly contribute sizable sums to political parties.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)
These small-towners became millionaires by exploring the services sector where novel ideas, not heavy -capital, are required to start and establish a business. Their stories must inspire our youth to become their own masters and fortune-makers.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow