the fully loaded magazine
That H.D. Kumaraswamy has provided a broad platform for Opposition unity at his swearing-in in Bangalore last month shows that it is going to be Modi Vs all in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls (Saffron Knights, May 28). Both the BJP and the Congress have, hopefully, learned salutary lessons from the Karnataka polls. While the development gives the BJP a chance to shed its arrogance, the Congress got finishing classes on coalition politics.
Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai
The BJP was unethical in its bid to grab power in Karnataka; hence the whole strategy blew up in the party’s face. The Supreme Court’s order to conduct a floor test in a day’s time and live-telecast the proceedings enabled the Congress and JD(S) to outsmart the BJP and pre-empt any subversion of democracy. The self-inflicted setback must have come as a rude awakening to the BJP, which otherwise is habituated to elbowing out rival parties and steamroll to power. The party believes its espousal of Hindu nationalism gives it the right to rule India. It is no more ‘a party with a difference’ as it once claimed, or maybe the only difference it has is its espousal of rabid Hindutva. . Fortuitously the head-on clash between the BJP and Congress-JD(S) has had a good fallout: fillip to Opposition unity. Post-Karnataka, the country’s Opposition parties seem to have gained the confidence to say, “Yes, we can”.
G. David Milton, Maruthancode (TN)
A post-poll alliance between Congress and JD(S) was unexpected, shameful and uncalled-for. They had fought the elections with different—and almost opposing—agendas. The JD(S) had campaigned extensively to end the Siddaramaiah’s Congress rule. For the grand old party, such is the desperation that it now has to play second fiddle to Gowda’s outfit. Despite being the bigger stakeholder between the two, the Congress went to the extent of forfeiting the chief minister’s post to the JD(S)! Quite a fall from erstwhile grace.
Chanchal Nandy, Burdwan
The Karnataka elections can’t really be taken as the ‘prelims’ for 2019. The state has a track record of frequent changes in power, so, nothing unusual has happened. The Congress-JD(S) alliance got their chance to rule despite not having a clear mandate. Even the BJP did not get a clear mandate, but they did get the maximum votes. The Congress party’s gains in Karnataka are less due to its own efforts and more because of the BJP’s mistakes.
Mahesh Kumar, On E-Mail
Karnataka speaks: all pawns, rooks, bishops and knights must unite to kick the saffron king out else they will not be able to defeat the formidable propaganda and ground-level operational force of the Sangh. The Congress has to be more accommodating in its alliances—it should now think in terms of pre-poll alliances rather than opportunist post-poll panic pacts. Also, for the 2019 campaigning, Congress supremo Rahul Gandhi musn’t fall prey to the politics of chest-beating. PM Modi wants the election to change into a cult-personality contest. If that’s what we get for 2019, it would be a contest between a rhetorical bombardier selling impossible dreams and a subdued yet accommodating voice, in which the latter is bound to lose.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
The judiciary rightly intervened and upheld democratic principles in Karnataka. It is indeed a relief to see southern states standing up to the nefarious political agendas from the north.
The BJP’s defeat in Karnataka brings to mind the defeat that the Kannada (Chalukya) ruler Pulakeshin II inflicted on the northern emperor Harshavardhana in the seventh century, putting an end to the latter’s plans to expand his realm southwards.
S.R. Devaprakash, Tumkur
The BJP should not have staked claim to form government in Karnataka when it was short of eight MLAs. By being the dominant force in Indian politics since 2013, it has become the common enemy of all opposition parties. Having prematurely celebrated victory in Karnataka, the ruling party’s leading duo have by now experienced that even ‘juggernauts’ can be tied in knots.
J.S. Acharya, Hyderabad
If the BJP’s feeling any heartburn post-Karnataka, it’s only getting a taste of its own medicine.
Anil S., Pune
This refers to your ‘Editor’s Word’ headlined Truth as Touchstone (May 28). First, I, on behalf of Outlook readers, present a bouquet of red roses to welcome the new editor. The aftermath of the Karnataka election reassures us that in spite all the misdeeds of politicians, a real democracy cannot be made ‘Opposition-mukt’.
M.N. Bhartiya, Goa
This is about the column on India’s defence management (The Cart Can’t Pull The Horse, May 28). No country can prosper today if its defence forces lack in requisite deterrence. In India’s, or other countries’, context, the enemy’s threat perception has to be seen in the light of their capabilities, rather than displayed or perceived intentions. A two-or two-and-a-half-front war, if we include an out of control J&K, has to be undoubtedly our premise for defence preparedness. The military strategy must logically flow from the national security as well as the national defence strategy. With future warfare scenarios being of a more integrated nature, with technology as one of the key ingredients, and including the para-military and intelligence assets, press and civil society, in addition to armed forces, there is an urgent need for creating new doctrines. Only manpower superiority in terms of numbers is no longer a winning proposition. China has already started pruning its manpower in favour of a tech-driven military. Deterrence is a necessity, so irrespective of diplomatic actions, defence of the country is of paramount importance. Till vigorous action is taken, a Defence Planning Committee (DPC) or other such panels will be superficial.
Rakesh Sharma, On E-Mail
I write in response to the cover story on the BJP’s new caste politics to divide the OBC quotas to their own electoral benefit (The Caste of Poll Saffron, May 21). After playing the Hindutva card to attract, hijack, galvanise and consolidate the large Hindu votebank in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere, this ‘quota-within-quota’ plan of the BJP aims to give more space to groups other than the dominant ones of Yadavs and Jats. The BJP has targeted non-Yadav OBCs and non-Jatav Dalits and succeeded in getting their votes so far, but there is discontent brewing within OBCs and Dalits, forcing the party to rethink caste equations and extend benefits to those who were denied due privileges. This is a dangerous game—in already a fragile state of caste equations that we live in, with more and more groups demanding reservation, injudicious tinkering with these matters can invite great social disturbance.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
My letter is apropos the article on Modi’s recent visit to Nepal (Chinese Whispers in Old Janakpur, May 21). Modi’s visit will be noted for the use of religion and culture as a source to deepen its ties with Nepal. It shows the keen desire of the neighbours to put behind them the acrimony that ensued recently. Public opinion in Nepal reacted adversely in 2015 to the Indian endeavour to set the terms for framing its Constitution. This perception and a trade blockade sank Modi’s diplomatic investment in the country. However, ties are on the mend. Modi has tried to use the close and unique civilisational ties that the countries share. India has realised that instead of playing to China’s strengths, it should leverage its traditional linkages and convert them into modern opportunities. In addition, there is a promise to respect the Nepali mandate. The visit to Janakpur was a signal to all Madhesis that they do matter to India. If there is a lesson for India from the past four years, it is not to make crude demands on loyalty based on size, but to acknowledge the due agency of a sovereign state.
Lal Singh, On E-Mail
A biopic on the great Savitri was long overdue (Reign Again, Mahanati, May 21). It was nice to know the director’s approach to the film. He wanted to show the phenomena that Savitri was and avoid the negativity that the media built around the legendary actress in her last days. It is true that once the strobe lights dimmed, Savitri made an unsung and unhonoured exit from the film world. But the media should have been more sensitive in their treatment of her twilight days. She was, after all, a well loved star and she deserved better. The photos featured in the article suggest that the film has tried to recreate the on-screen magic of the glamorous and flamboyant actress. I hope the film has also dealt with the unglamorous part of the actresses life.
Balmukund J., Hyderabad
This refers to Three Years for Hardliners (May 14), your story on the ministerial reshuffle in Jammu and Kashmir. The reshuffle was on the cards for months, with both partners in the ruling coalition, the PDP and the BJP, keen to induct new faces. The state can have a maximum of 25 ministers. The rejig of one-third of the ministry suggests this is no ordinary exercise, especially when bulk of the new ministers are from the BJP, which has been trying to contain the fallout of the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua. It indicates that the PDP and the BJP have decided that they will complete the remaining three years of the government’s term despite their ideological mismatch. But unless they stop conducting themselves like the adversaries they clearly are, they won’t be able to govern the state together in a proper way, nor use the time they are left with to fulfil any of the promises they have made to the people of J&K.
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