Letters to the editor

Readers’ comments: ‘Only thing in common between Congress of 1940s and the party today is the name’

A selection of readers’ opinions.

Quit India Anniversary

For several decades now the Congress has merely used the Gandhi name to perpetuate their own interest (“Narendra Modi wants the nation to revive the Quit India spirit. But will his own party pay heed?”). It may be pertinent to point out that the only thing in common between the Congress of the ’40s and today is in the name. The party of the 1940s was a broad-based, well represented and an intellectually and morally well stocked pan-India organisation. Today’s Congress is an insecure, dynasty clutching, clue-less organisation filled with sycophants, each one more self-serving than the other.

There maybe several reasons to disagree with Narendra Modi’s economic policies or political actions, but one can’t deny his relentless pursuit of social initiatives along with economic, technological and political objectives. Perhaps proof of his respect and regard for Gandhi and his values, which is certainly more than that displayed by any of the Congress supporters of today who have betrayed their ancestry so shamelessly. – R Maker

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The author’s views on the Quit India spirit in today’s context would have been laudable if he had taken a more balanced view instead of apportioning blame only on the BJP and the RSS. It is the Congress party (which had unilaterally appropriated Gandhi’s legacy) that is largely responsible for the state of casteism and communalism that is prevalent today.

The Congress has always adopted soft Hindutva, especially whenever elections are round the corner, and has had a penchant for fishing in troubled waters whenever the occasion presented itself. – Raghavendra Pattabhi

Nail-biting finish

The validity of the party whip has to be established by this case (“‘Shahi win for Congress’: Headlines focus on Ahmed Patel’s victory over Amit Shah’s win”). All this is reported to have been merely on show of votes. Once each party issues a whip, the question of cross-voting does not arise in the Congress.

Crossing of floor after winning under the banner of one party establishes that the representatives are given individual powers in case of internal voting when they cross the floor. They represent people and that is how the counting is done even in Presidential elections according to popular belief.
The Election Commission ought to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on this . Public ought to be apprised from time to time so that there is no misuse by representatives who gain support on party lines. – Rekha Dayal

Upper house rules

India is a quasi-federal Republic and the states do not enjoy the kind of the constitutional equality and sanctity that their counterparts would in a truly federal Republic like the US (“How the Rajya Sabha went from being a House of States to a House of Political High Commands”).

The US government has the powers to admit new states to the Union, but cannot abolish existing ones or alter their boundaries, at least, not without the permission of the state legislature. Despite their often distinct linguistic and cultural identities, Indian states are merely administrative units for convenience and the Union government has the power to create or abolish them and alter their boundaries without the approval of the state legislature. Hence, granting equality to the states in Rajya Sabha is more problematic than the author assumes and a comparison with US model makes little sense. But I agree on the need to bring back the domicile requirement for membership to the Rajya Sabha. – Vineeth Gopalakrishnan

***

The article contains strong suggestions that are worth considering. Petty politics and rule of a (false majority) has reduced the August Rajya Sabha to a political stage. Seats are given to those who lost the Lok Sabha elections or filmstars and sportspersons who neither attend sessions regularly or participate in any debate. It is time all parties get together to improve the quality of members in the Upper House. But this may be difficult in the Modi government as the prime minister needs numbers and not sound policies to strengthen his position in the Rajya Sabha. – SN Iyer

Race to the top

Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s defeat in the vice-presidential race is the defeat of democratic values of the country (“‘Confident Venkaiah Naidu will uphold Constitution’: Best wishes pour in for vice president-elect”). As is expressly known, Gandhi is a staunch critic of capital punishment (which trolls misinterpreted as his sympathy towards Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru), while Naidu, the 13th vice president of India, is a firm believer in the practice.

Capital punishment is the most regressive way of penalising a person for their crimes and should, unarguably, have no space in a democratic setup like that of India.
True, the office of vice president has little power, yet Gandhi’s election to the post would have served as a symbol of the democratic values and ideals that India stands for. Because, for the world, a mere symbol is all-important.
Alas, it is not to be and India shall continue putting people to death legally and the parties in power shall continue electing party loyalists to the posts of President and vice president. Indian democracy has shrunk to an embarrassing, dimensionless dot. – Atish Kumar Padhy

History repeats?

This article comparing the Muslim League to the BJP does not hold (“Opinion: The BJP’s ideology and its growth mirrors that of the Muslim League in the 1930s”). Partition was a consequence of the politics of appeasement of Gandhi, Nehru and the Congress. We hope the BJP does not go down that path. – Ajay Sinha

***

The need for a secular challenge to the BJP is clear. As many social and political commentators have noted, Hindutva has normalised and mainstreamed the most egregious forms of verbal and physical hatred against minorities, many of whom are living with increasing insecurity. The moral apathy and complicity of many Hindus in this is a major reason behind the current state of affairs, with my class of NRI technocrats bearing a disproportionately large share of the blame.

As to the thrust of Ajaz Ashraf’s piece, given the increasing and occasionally state-sponsored anti-minority terror since the 1990s, over and above the constant intimidation and patriotism tests, it is clear that even if a tenuous form of democracy is to survive, we will need a new freedom movement against feudal, obscurantist, and prescriptive dogmas, with a particular focus on the recommendations of the Sachar Committee Report. Of course, it may already be too late, as we are fast heading towards a scenario where where no centrist alternative to Hindutva is allowed to coalesce. – Sudipto Roy Choudhury

Power play

Imagine what would have happened if youngsters from an ordinary family had committed this crime (“The Daily Fix: Politics and society are colluding to shield the accused in Chandigarh stalking case”). Much more stringent clauses would have slapped on them and they would have never have gotten midnight bail. But police and politicians are hand in glove to save these VIP brats. – Umakant Sharma

Cow country

Nobody should take the law into their hands – neither gau rakshaks nor those protesting against cow protection vigilantes (“Mob beats up gau rakshaks in Ahmednagar after they stop tempo carrying cows for slaughter”). – Shakeel Sait

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No one should take law into their hands, more so the crowds. – Ravindra Misra

Powerless commissions

The Supreme Court should not have stopped at just noting the helplessness of the National Human Rights Commission (“Granted the National Human Rights Commission is a ‘toothless tiger’, but can’t it even growl?”). It could have at least admonished the Executive and the Parliament and directed them to do what is necessary to give some teeth to such statutory commissions. Off late, the courts appear to be cautious about ticking off the government at the Centre and states. – Kanchan Mukherjee

***

If it is a tiger, its very existence matters. When the government machinery cannot reach the masses, let people step in. Promotion and awareness about human rights can be achieved through people participation. The National Human Rights Commission must also encourage the participation of NGOs. Together with the society, the National Human Rights Commission can certainly fulfil its mandate. – Avinash Mokashi

Ties that bind

I’m French but I love Bengal and this article about Raksha Bandhan was beautiful (“In Bengal, the bond of Rakhi once symbolised eternal protection – between Hindus and Muslims”). I did not know that Tagore had used it to encourage peace between Hindus and Muslim, or more aptly, between between Bengalis. – Catherine Simonnet

Exploiting resources

This is an excellent and informative article on the contentious new guidelines for the use of groundwater (“Ground water authority might expand areas where water-guzzling industries can operate”). Scroll.in has done a great service by alerting and informing civil society of the irresponsible move being contemplated by the Central Ground Water Authority. – Dilnavaz Variava

Laws of the land

It is sickening that a 10-year-old child is being forced to carry and deliver a child (“Opinion: Denying abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim is to inflict more violence on her”). All the arguments of the author are valid. Public opinion and the media also failed the girl. – Rosa

Musical dissent

This is absolutely brilliant (“Watch: ‘Opera vs Trump’ is the finest (and funniest) takedown of the US President”). Not only has it been perfectly sung and performed, but the lyrics are perfect, and expressed my outrage at the President. I’m also a retired classical singer and voice teacher.This is the first political statement I’ve posted. – Maeve Fry

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You can protest this way in a real democracy, not the hollow one we have, where much needs to be said but almost nothing is because of the fear of being frog-marched to the nearest police station. – Sherna Gandhy

A better India

I appreciate the views of our honourable vice president (“Hyper-nationalism indicates insecurity, says Hamid Ansari in farewell speech”). Intolerance will drive us to a hellish situation. Let us try keep India secular. – Girish Chandra Pradhan

Book versus movie

My compliments to Bubla Basu on an excellent piece about the movie Paar (Book versus movie: Swimming pigs and a perfectly adapted short story in Goutam Ghose’s ‘Paar’”). I watched the film years ago, but the visceral nature of the narrative as it unfolds, and the vulnerability depicted by the two stellar leads has stayed with me. Thank you for carrying this piece. – Nilanjana Chakraborty

High time

This article fails to mention the opioid epidemic (“Should medical marijuana be legalised in India? Palliative care doctors are divided”). Prescribing more opioids has a predictable outcome. Doctors and politicians in India should think about the current crisis overseas in the context of their efforts. More than 183,000 deaths in the us are attributed to opioid overdose. India has a larger population than the US, so the numbers could be much higher here. To an American, the idea of increasing opioid use is like signing death warrants of thousands of people who become addicted to these drugs. – Benjamin Greene

Reel redemption

It was shameful that an innocent person was hanged for a crime he didn’t commit, in part because of a media trial (“Dhananjoy Chatterjee, hanged for rape in Kolkata 13 years ago, gets a retrial through a movie”). If the movie is based on adequate research and takes all views into consideration, it would be nice. – S Kumar Bose

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
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