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Apropos Congressed (May 30), the assembly election results have been a major setback to the Congress, and more crucially to Rahul Gandhi, under whose leadership the party fought and lost. Voters have obviously rejected his negative politics and the party’s obstructionist tactics in Parliment, which is unlikely to allow an elected government perform well. Is it the end of the road for the grand old party? Maybe.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
The Congress is losing its power base across the country and for good reason. In Assam, people have voted for the BJP ignoring the ‘communal’ tag pinned to it. Perhaps the Congress loss in Assam also had to do with the party not projecting a younger chief ministerial candidate. But the fact remains that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP has pan-Indian and international appeal. No politician in the past 30 years has occupied the mindspace of the public the way he has. The recent elections have shown that the Congress is on a steady decline. It’s clear that Rahul Gandhi’s weakness is his lack of experience and inaccessibility. In fact, as long as the Congress has Rahul, the BJP does not need any weapon to demolish his party.
Vinod C. Dixit, Ahmedabad
Instead of indulging in sophistry in the face of abject failure, the best course for the Congress right now would be to play the role of a constructive, responsible Opposition. It’s also high time the party realised that, in Rahul Gandhi, the party is backing the wrong horse.
C.V. Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad
Internal bickering has been the bane of the Congress ever since its birth. Leaders with selfish interests created groups or secret alignments within the party that often worked against the interests of the party as a whole. As the recent elections show, no magic can restore the lost glory of the Congress. There’s no question of the revival of this appendage of history.
M.K. Somanatha Panicker, Cherthala
It’s unfair to blame Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for dynastic politics in the Congress. Actually, it’s their sychophants who have made the party dynastic. And they do so because it’s the Gandhi name that’s holding the party together like cement. What’s unfortunate is that the cement is being mistaken for the edifice.
K. Suresh, Bangalore
I think the BJP is duty-bound to felicitate Rahul Gandhi for having helped it win in Assam.
Pradeep Mathur, Delhi
With the recent assembly election results, has it not become evident to those in the Congress that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have lost control over the party and that their leadership has proved ineffective. Everything, good or bad, has to come to an end one day. Perhaps the 100-year-old party is also facing that prospect.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur
A determined effort to do away with the dependence on the Gandhi family and the attendant sycophancy and coterie politics, which is the hallmark of the Congress today, might restore the grand old party some of its lost sheen and glory. It’s a tough call, but it has to be taken to break the vice-like grip the BJP seems to have over the electorate.
Dr George Jacob, Kochi
India may one day become free of one C—that is, the Congress. But I wonder if it will ever be free of the three other defining Cs—corruption, criminality and chamchagiri (sycophancy). Those are bigger issues.
Richa Juyal, Dehradun
At this rate, the grand old party will remain the party of grand old people, a fast diminishing lot in this country.
Rakesh Agarwal, Dehradun
The assembly election results represents a massive blow to the strategies of Congress chieftain Rahul Gandhi. The problem with Rahul is that he has neither taken over the party properly nor restructured it the way he claimed he would. Such is the despondency in the party that senior leaders do not even wish to discuss the subject in casual conversations.
Meghana A, Shell Cove, NSW
The Congress has outlived its days. But its bosses refuse to admit it.
T. Santhanam, On E-Mail
It is again time for the Congress to introspect. It needs to conduct a post-mortem, for now even the cadres are questioning the high command and its wisdom. It’s time for the high command to become proactive. It’s now or never.
C.K. Subramaniam, Mumbai
Former Tamil Nadu chief minister and Congress president K. Kamaraj once made big news by resigning from his post and taking up the task of reviving the party. The Congress today needs such a major move if fortune is to favour the party even in the safely distant future. A plan to revive the party has to be taken up on a war footing. What Kamaraj did made history; party leaders of Congress today would do well to emulate him.
Calicut Krishnan Ramani, Mumbai
To revive, the Congress must move ahead without Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Anant Savanur, Pune
The Congress is the most communal and cynical party in India. It has exploited every faultline in society just to gain a few votes. For heaven’s sake, it even appointed Mohammed Azharuddin—a known match-fixer and Dawood crony—as an MP to gain a fistful of Muslim votes!!! Couldn’t it find an honest, better qualified Muslim candidate to show its secular credentials? The rise of the BJP is a direct result of the communual policies of the Congress.
Ravi Jain, Hyderabad
The Congress needs a new leadership and new alliances. Either it should gird up to combat the saffronisation of India or it should get out of the way and let other secular parties or coalitions take over the task.
Anwaar, Dallas, TX
Given that the Gandhis are ineffective, the Congress needs to keep them hidden, the way the BJP kept L.K. Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi away to go on a winning streak.
Sanjiv Gupta, Perth
India, like Basel, should have binationality—then we could all visit Pakistan without ado.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
This is in reference to the book review of Bloodshed in Punjab (Old Embers in the Doaba, Feb 16). I knew the author, G.S. Chawla, for more than three decades. I was his neighbour on Shah Jahan Road in Delhi where he stayed for over 30 years.
Later on, we were not in touch because I moved to Canada for 10 years after that. So many years later, the book review shocked me, as I had known Mr Chawla as a journalist of great credibility and respect. I eventually got hold of the book and read it, and the first thing I have to say is that the facts mentioned are true. No one can challenge that. To be sure, there are many compositional mistakes and repetitions in the book and the publisher has let him down completely. But even so, the reviewer has done an unnecessarily uncharitable piece on it. Mr Chawla commanded confidence from bureaucrats, politicians and other journalists: I have seen that myself. When I was appointed the chief secretary of Punjab in 1985, Chawla was the first to report it for the Indian Express. It pains me to draw attention to this, but your reviewer has done an injustice to a reporting talent he cannot appreciate.
Surain Singh Dhanoa, Delhi
This is about Outlook’s story on the winning ways of mighty Mamata Banerjee and super ‘Amma’ Jayalalitha (Winners Take The Decade, May 30). In 2011, Didi trounced the CPI(M) by picking the right issues and tapping into mass disaffection. But in 2016 none of us expected her to spring this huge surprise win, knowing how Trinamool was on the backfoot because of the Saradha scam and the Narada scandal. Mamata's interaction with voters and her skilful use of freebies and government work helped her in getting a bigger mandate. Her counterpart in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalitha, though tainted by a jail term, was helped by the mistakes of the DMK, who, in teaming up with the Congress, weakened their chances. Again, Jaya's offering of the right freebies clicked with voters. Her promise to ban alcohol also went down well with women.
L.J. Singh, Amritsar
Poll results in four states, especially Bengal and TN, shows that performance—not rhetoric or tall promises—pays. The Trinamool Congress and LDF triumph in Bengal and Kerala, and the AIADMK and BJP wins in Tamil Nadu and Assam are a stark reminder that parties embroiled in corruption and scams, weighed down by lacklustre leaderships, can’t expect to win. It shows electorates threw in their lot and confidence in parties that can offer good administration and governance. We hope the parties don't disappoint.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
Results in Tamil Nadu have only confirmed the expectations. The perennial DMK and AIADMK together continue to garner the major chunk of votes polled. At the same time, Tamil chauvinism and self-serving ideologies are failing to find resonance with the educated youth.
N. Ramaswamy, Nagpur
In Tamil Nadu, people haven’t moved on, in a manner, since MGR. The way people regard and treat Jayalalitha and, to a lesser degree, Karunanidhi, seems to suggest that their mere existence is the most important factor during polling day. The people who vote for them seem to belong to their respective fan clubs. They only get momentarily disaffected by their idols, rival votes surge, then regain confidence and put him/her back in.
Aditya Mookerjee, Belgaum
The article on Jayalalitha and Mamata was insightful. Both the DMK and the AIADMK have been wooing voters with the promise of freebies. But Jayalalitha has been more successful in this game of oneupmanship. What many of us forget is how these freebies—mixers, televisions, bicycles, computers etc—are inaccessible to most poor people. Many of them are daily-wage workers, who would not get bank loans to buy goods on instalment, nor can they buy such stuff by paying cash. Government freebies make their lives a little pleasant. There’s nothing wrong in this, is there?
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
While most of the news-space was cornered by the contests in Assam, Bengal and Kerala, it seems to have not occurred to commentators to credit Amma for the gritty way she held off the DMK challenge and turned the tables on sceptics. She has once again proven her knack at beating all odds, even opinion polls, and made sure no one can question her status as iron lady of Tamil Nadu. She came, saw and conquered the voters with her dynamism, good governance and a will to work for the people. This is the sixth time she has won the state and the second in a row.
C.K. Ramani, Navi Mumbai
Is TN going to be ruled only by the DMK or the AIADMK? People rue the day when the DMK was split into two, depriving them of the opportunity to be ruled by mainstream parties like the Congress or the BJP. While the Congress piggybacked on the DMK, the BJP came a cropper. The smaller outfits drew a blank too. Is Tamil Nadu becoming the land of Periyar, who founded the self-respect movement and cut it off from the national mainstream? Ironically, no other parties in India assail people’s self-respect more than DMK/AIADMK, with their promises of freebies.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
The cover story on the revival of Congress (May 30) discusses a few questions closely, which was appreciated. But it barely touches on some of the more salient points. For example, what should be done to revive the party? How can the Congress look beyond the dynasty to a Gandhi-free Congress? Who is the best alternate person to lead the Congress with consensus? While all the blame is with Gandhis themselves, why is everyone missing out on the very sycophancy culture that enables the dynasty to keep its strangehold? Besides, an anti-BJP piece takes up four pages, and just two for the critique of Congress. Do you really not see your own rampant bias?
Sumeet Misra, On e-mail
This refers to How Modi Got His May Back (May 30). Mayawati had stitched a social engineering alliance by consolidating both the Brahmin and Dalit votes in 2007. Mulayam Singh Yadav had successfully enthused the masses with the untested fresh, young face of his son. Now, it is the BJP’s turn to woo the Brahmins, OBCs and Dalits with its own brand of cynical manipulations. Also, your report wrongly mentions Keshav Maurya as the BJP’s Dalit face. Maurya is not even Dalit; he is OBC.
Pramod Srivastava, New Delhi