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This refers to your cover story Will The Cow Moo For BJP Again? (Feb 19). Though the NDA enjoyed a landslide sweep in the 2014 Lok Saba polls, an encore of the same intensity looks unlikely for 2019. The political scenario has changed due to public resentment around the aggressive and coercive demonetisation, a hurriedly introduced GST and the not so fool-proof Aadhaar card scheme. Besides, the spurt in atrocities under the current government—the killings of rationalists, gau rakshak terror, the love jehad bogey and the rise of a goonish, violent nationalism—has left a number of people and social groups feeling threatened, fearful and hence angry. There is an uneasy calm across the country in these times and one cannot predict which trivial issue will snowball into something dangerous in future, like the uproar and protest against the release of Padmaavat by a fringe group.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
The performance card of the BJP, which shows many momentous decisions such as demonetisation, the GST, the Swachh Bharat abhiyan and Make in India, among others, will count little if the job sector remains dry. Nevertheless, I agree with the analysis in Modi Still BJP’s Trump Card. But, with all that said, it is very hard to see any party other than the BJP winning in 2019. This is not because the BJP has transformed the country with sweeping schemes in its tenure so far, it is so because the Congress and other parties remain elusive and unconvincing to the masses. The outcome of state elections in 2018 in Karnataka, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh may influence the general elections in some ways but winning the Centre is a different thing altogether.
Sanjiv Gupta, Perth, Australia
Looks like some people never learn. In September 2013, when Modi had been chosen as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Outlook ran a pompous cover story titled No, He Can’t, which outright rejected the possibility of Modi becoming PM. We all know what happened next. Now, with the 2019 election more than a year away, no one has the faintest idea what issues will dominate at that time. But here is your magazine, already giving a ‘heads up’ to 2019. The see-saw of the media is amazing. After the UP election in 2017, Modi was an unstoppable juggernaut. Not a year has passed and suddenly Modi is vulnerable.
Akash Verma, Chennai
The rap the BJP got in Rajasthan is very significant. Evidently, the defeat is a manifestation of the disenchantment with the Vasundhara Raje government. The two Lok Sabha constituencies, and an Assembly seat, that went to polls in Rajasthan are geographically dispersed. Therefore the contest has the billing of a semi-final before the Assembly elections later this year. As we have seen, one of the seats, Alwar, is Hindutva’s latest laboratory for communal polarisation. Two Muslims were lynched to death here by gau rakshaks and a dozen ‘gau-raksha’ stations have sprung up.
J. Akshay, Bangalore
Congress president Rahul Gandhi has rather prematurely termed the Rajasthan verdict the beginning of the end of the BJP. The question whether ‘the cow will moo for the BJP again’ must not arise at all. Every concerned Indian hopes that the cow will not be stolen from the gaushala and taken to the electioneering prayogshala in 2019. But going by its past record, the bovine-obsessed BJP surely has other things planned.
George Jacob, Kochi
Searching for some acche din, India needed a change in 2014 and found it in Modi. However, disillusionment set in immediately and the country now seeks another change. It looks like the ability of the PM to sell dreams has diminished substantially. The cow on your cover page has a dry udder.
Gilbert D’Souza, Bangalore
The 2014 parliamentary election was fought on the plank of development and anti-corruption and the electorate voted with tremendous enthusiasm. But as for the promises of ‘acche din’, nobody’s really sure. However, there is only one significant point that favours the BJP—no government scam has come to light until now. The pitches for the next election are already taking shape—pro-poor, pro-farmer, employment, and gender. But the results from Gujarat and Rajasthan show that the BJP is losing its mojo. Therefore, it is a clarion call for the BJP to show tangible results, by applying some heuristics.
Indu S. Dube, On E-Mail
This refers to A Gateway To Reclaim, the article about the BJP’s prospects in Karnataka. The Congress has steadily been losing every state it held in 2014. In Gujarat, which it expected to wrest from the BJP, Rahul suddenly saw the ‘light’ and began his temple tourism. He is repeating the same strategy in Karnataka. No one is under any illusion that Rahul has suddenly turned a Bhakt, and a Brahmin one too. This façade failed to work in Gujarat and it will fail here as well. This visiting of temples and bowing before Hindu religious heads on election eve, has been a kind of tradition in the family beginning with Indira herself. It is unlikely to gain Rahul any votes; instead, it may lose him some ‘secular’ votes.
Rajan Narasimhan, On E-Mail
No matter how weak the BJP’s cards look, the ‘joker’ at the helm can turn the game around.
Rajneesh Batra, New Delhi
This refers to Of Pundits and Punters (Feb 19). “The party is still banking on just one man and that makes the contest all the more intriguing,” reads a line from your comment. This makes me think of the days of the Emergency in 1975, when the Congress party was banking on just one woman. The moment Indira Gandhi declared the election then, many of her trusted party members changed their allegiances overnight. Indian politicians have always been good at this game. They believe that any sin can be easily washed by just changing the flag. As for the current promoters of the ‘pakoda business’, it’s time they realised that the Indian voter is unpredictable. Calculators won’t help in the electoral forecast dear editor, try trigonometry, or for the sake of sport, astronomy.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
Apropos Khalistan II (Feb 12), we can hardly criticise gurudwaras associating with secessionism when Indian governments themselves have been following irrational and divisive policies. Figure this: the demand for an imaginary Ram temple in the place of a real, historic mosque is considered legitimate by the current rulers. So, you are actively threatening minorities and erasing their cultural heritage and expecting them to do nothing! In these circumstances, it would be foolish to expect otherwise from Sikhs who have their own history of pain to deal with. Both sides have chosen the path of unreason.
G.L. Karkal, Pune
Kids Alone on Infobahns (Feb 19), with its report on child abuse, is an eye-opener. The deaths caused recently by the Blue Whale challenge were shocking. Mobile phone addiction is everywhere now. My 12-year-old daughter is demanding an iPhone because all her friends have one. Is this how we want our kids to grow up? Is this technology a luxury, a comfort or a necessity? In addition to the issues of physical safety, health and addiction, it’s important to monitor what these kids are doing, as it is easy for cyber-criminals to lure them in with freebies. I would always put parental controls on social media and any systems where children are vulnerable to exposure.
Anil Kapadia, Mumbai Kamal
Apropos of Bloodbath on Dalal Street, (Feb 19), the Sensex couldn’t defy gravity forever. No bull run is unstoppable. This is the reality of the stock market. Even the so-called pro-farmer Budget failed to fire up market sentiment. The next day was thus a free-fall day in response to global cues, chiefly American paranoia over rising wages that could stoke inflation and invite interest rate hikes. The populist announcements about raising MSPs and doubling farmers’ income had already been discounted as impractical and uninspiring. The government consciously made safe and secured small savings schemes, such as PPFs, National Savings Certificates and Kisan Vikas Patra, unattractive by repeatedly slashing their interest rates. In order to protect gullible investors, the government must stop doing this. Bank deposits are worthless as they do not protect investors from rising inflation.
K.S. Jayatheertha, Bangalore
This is about the article on the Left’s greatly reduced circumstances in West Bengal (Where The Party Has Withered Away, Feb 19). There is a faint whiff of tug of war in the CPI(M) between senior leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury. Now the two can argue their respective ‘lines’ till the cows come home, but the reality is that the Left’s political space is shrinking by the day. Its salient ideology—pro-poor policies, equitable distribution of wealth and so on—has been appropriated by centrist and right-wing parties very successfully. Under Karat, the party has steadily gone downhill, reduced to almost an irrelevance. The real crisis in the Left has to do with the fact that it has lost its extensive ground-level contacts with people and that there is no second-rung leadership in sight.
Meghana A., New South Wales
A steady rise in terror attacks from across its western border should now prompt India to beef up intelligence and security at its defence establishments to enable a total check on infiltration bids by Pakistan (Red Response To White Flag, Feb 19). The February 11 attack on Sunjuwan army camp was avoidable. It’s strange that the government, instead of being proactive on ending cross-border terrorism once and for all, is for cautionary steps like closing schools and moving civilians to safer places.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
Political parties in J&K repeatedly emphasise that dialogue is the lone way forward, but are conditions even close to conducive for a dialogue with Pakistan constantly playing provocateur at the border? Now, with the US cold-shouldering Pak for its terror tendencies, Islamabad should stop its terror war against India. Only then can an earnest dialogue be initiated.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
The Valley looks set to undergo another spell of violence, with summer a few months away. This is the time the PM needs to show some determination. The Centre should go for President’s rule in J&K even if that means sacrificing the BJP’s tie-up with the PDP.
Rajiv B. Jain, New Delhi
This is in response to Sanjay Joshi’s column on patriotism (My Patriot Versus Yours, Feb 19). Untramelled ultranationalism and jingoism are the cause of Pakistani aggression. Then also, our governments have failed to establish people-to-people contact between Pakistanis and Indians. Virulent communal campaigns from the fascist BJP, RSS and other fringe organisations are also distorting the image of an inclusive India. Talks with our western neighbour have to resume, for Pakistan will gain the upper hand in a proxy war. Pakistan, being a failed state, has nothing to lose. If we don’t check rising bigotry, we might also head in the same direction.
Simon John, On E-Mail
In the light of recent happenings, the story on unwise investments by banks was timely (Clever Bait, Gasping Fight, Feb 19). It appears PMS and MF operators take advantage of the lax control over them. PMS operators follow opaque practices, churning the scripts very frequently to make more commissions on transactions, which are not controlled by investors. Then, there are third party ‘company authorised’ agents. Once, such agent, who was introduced to me by a big company’s executive, messed up my portfolio, while that company washed its hands of the whole thing, saying the contract wasn’t binding on them!
J.S. Ramlal, On E-Mail
This is about Saji Narayanan C.K.’s piece in the Republic Day special issue (Don’t Foist Fear Onto Nationalism, Feb 5). This is really laughable. The chief of the RSS’s labour wing, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, is now being deployed in desperation to fight its losing battle about nationalism. RSS men control the government of the day, and it is made up of men who have been brainwashed to such an admirable degree that they hold up Savarkar—who prayed for his life to the British and won a reprieve—as a great patriot.
Rabindra Nath Roy, Durgapur
Outlook’s Republic Day special issue (Feb 5) on patriotism cleverly paraded Ramachandra Guha, Irfan Habib and Apoorvanand, all opponents of Hindutva nationalism, against S. Gurumurthy, Saji Narayanan and R. Balashankar, who are proponents of Savarkarite nationalism. Interestingly, the last three have liberally quoted Gandhi to defend Hindutva. Saji Narayanan has presented many certificates for the RSS’s patriotism, gathered from personages across the political spectrum, including EMS Namboodiripad, who himself accused Gandhi of being a British agent. The fact is that Savarkar, Hegdewar, Golwalkar and other RSS ideologues didn’t show the courage to admit that Gandhiji died as a result of the disparity between his worldview with that of the RSS, which was modelled on Western fascism.
Only Godse, in his statement filed in Gandhiji’s assassination case, states why he killed the Mahatma: “I finally believed that the teachings of ahimsa, as advocated by Gandhiji, would ultimately result in the emasculation of the Hindu community, and thus make the community incapable of resisting the aggression or inroads of other communities, especially the Muslims.” I hope that one day the RSS would give up their malodorous hypocrisy.
K. Aravindakshan, On E-Mail
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