This refers to your cover package on one year of Galwan (China Gate, June 21), especially the column by Lt Gen (retd) Subrata Saha (Plateau of Bad Faith). The fatal skirmishes a year ago in Galwan valley can be called a watershed moment in Sino-Indian ties. The army build-up to match China in the higher altitudes of eastern Ladakh, the swift occupation of heights to get the necessary bargaining chips in de-escalation talks and economic repercussions of Beijing’s transgressions—all pointed to an unexpected resoluteness from New Delhi, which is no longer willing to ignore PLA’s tactics just to keep the dragon in good humour. While troops on both sides have backed down from their earlier positions, it isn’t clear how things stand now. History proves that Beijing cannot be trusted. With its military and economic clout, China harbours the ambition to become a superpower by dethroning the US. While alliances like QUAD are important, there is only one way to check the belligerence of China in the long term, and that is to make the Indian economy do the talking.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
This refers to your cover story on Uttar Pradesh (Road to Delhi Starts from UP, June 14). It is true that assembly elections in UP are very important for the BJP and the party cannot afford to lose. In fact, the UP polls in 2022 will be the semi-finals for the 2024 parliamentary elections as this is the state that sends the most number of MPs to the Lok Sabha. The saffron party’s victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections were also due to the fact that it won a large number of seats from UP. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has a good track record. He is an able administrator and has done a lot to develop the state’s economy. However, handling the Covid pandemic has been a challenge for Yogi and he is already facing a lot of flak. Farmers’ protests against the new farm laws, especially in western UP, is another big challenge for him. What’s in his favour is the fact that the Opposition may not be able to mount a united fight against him. So the BJP has the advantage at the moment. In politics, however, the situation can change very rapidly. In the past, UP has thrown up many surprises and 2022 too may bring something unexpected.
D.B. Madan, New Delhi
By sending the highest number of people’s representatives to Parliament, UP has always set the template for general elections. It’s mammoth size and geographical location at the centre of the Hindu heartland, with ripple effects on adjoining states like Bihar, make assembly elections here ‘the mother of all battles’. The UP chief minister has, by now, effortlessly combined his image of Hindutva poster boy with his no-nonsense approach to administration. A slew of welfare measures, a host of development projects and an unrelenting crackdown on people of dubious antecedents have bolstered the image of the firebrand Yogi. And to make things easy for him, a somnolent Opposition has failed to capitalise on his government’s missteps, so much so that even the government’s visible disarray and consequent mounting deaths in the second wave of the pandemic have been given a go by. Realising that the pandemic has left behind unforgiving scars, the Yogi government is more than making up for its earlier tardiness. The ‘love me or hate me’ monk is in election mode and, looking at how things stand, Delhi does not seem too far away.
P. Veejay, On E-Mail
This refers to your story on the Opposition in UP (Safely Cornered Out There, June 14). Are the results of the panchayat elections in UP a premonition of things to come in the assembly elections early next year? Matters have been made worse for the ruling party by its bunglings in dealing with the second wave of the pandemic. No matter how the chief minister defends it, bodies floating in the rivers are some of those unseemly images that will remain etched in people’s memories for long. Add to it the simmering anger of farmers and the bumping off of gangster Vikas Dubey lest he spilled the beans, and the BJP appears beatable, after all. The only catch is that the opposition parties have all gone on leave. Thus, as in the Centre, the TINA (there is no alternative) factor will save the day for the saffron party.
Kamna Chhabra, Gurgaon
This refers to your story on the BJP’s post-election situation in West Bengal (Didi Blows a Cyclone to Delhi, June 14). The way the fight between PM Narendra Modi and CM Mamata Banerjee reached a crescendo at a time when the state is faced with a catastrophe is a consequence of the ego clash between two leaders who seem to have no belief in mutual understanding and civil dialogue. The extreme approach taken by both after the assembly polls is a clear revelation that settling personal scores rather than governance is the priority. Though the Bengal loss has put Modi and Amit Shah on the back foot, the episode of Mamata and her chief secretary keeping the prime minister waiting at the Cyclone Yaas review meeting and then skipping it on flimsy reasons was not only in bad taste, but also shows that tensions have not cooled down even a bit. Meanwhile, rumblings have started in the BJP camp with a few state leaders coming out boldly to question the top party leadership over training guns at Mamata, which can only further imperil Centre-state relations, instead of analysing their defeat and taking steps to rectify their mistakes. At the same time, Mamata seems to have made up her mind to kep defying the Centre. When she asked all Opposition chief ministers to raise their voice without fear against the “autocratic Centre”, she should have thought about how autocratic her own rule in Bengal has been. Both Modi and Mamata need to go the extra mile to patch up their differences instead of crossing swords on every issue, which will ultimately only add to the state’s misery.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
This refers to Livin’ in Tulsa Time in Foreign Hand (June 14). Though Abraham Lincoln legally abolished the institution of slave trade way back in the 19th century, the racial terror of Whites against Blacks and the brutal police murder of George Floyd last year was one of the more recent results of that historic legacy. The history of America’s wealth and power is based on the merciless exploitation of Blacks by Whites. It is in this context that the positive humanitarian message of US President Joe Biden’s Tulsa visit should be understood.
M.N. Bhartiya, Alto-Porvorim (Goa)