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This refers to your cover story Mood Swing? (November 4). The final results of Maharashtra and Haryana came as a surprise, with the ruling BJP falling short of securing even a simple majority to be able to form governments on its own in both the states. It is bad news for the saffron party that it secured less seats in both states than it had in 2014. It has to depend on a new party, the Jannayak Janta Party of Dushyant Chautala, in Haryana and is still unable to deal with Shiv Sena’s demand of a 50:50 share in power in Maharashtra. Amit Shah’s Chanakya tricks and shrewd organisational skills, Narendra Modi’s mass appeal, media projection of a bright picture of the nose-diving economy, 24x7 diatribe against Pakistan, criminalisation of triple talaq and abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A—nothing seems to have worked. The prospects of a ‘New India’ driven by Hindu-majoritarian nationalism are beginning to get eclipsed. Its prospects have fallen flat, with the PM insisting everything is fine instead of addressing the economic downturn. If it sets its house in order, the Congress could look at a slow and steady revival.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
Till the late 1960s, it was the states that sent leaders to the Centre, like S. Nijalingappa, K. Kamraj, S.K. Patil and Morarji Desai. After the seventies, the emergence of the high command led to centralisation of power. It is time for the Congress to reassess and give local leaders the prominence they deserve. This has been amply proved in the elections to the state assemblies of MP, Rajasthan and now, in Maharashtra and Haryana, where regional leaders have played a significant role. It is interesting to note that the Nehru-Gandhi family did not actively campaign in the recent Maharashtra-Haryana elections and the results, though not spectacular, were still impressive. It also proves that Congress can provide effective opposition with or without the Nehru-Gandhi family. There are talented pools of younger leaders who can take the challenge and be battle-ready. It is another matter that the BJP is steadily moving towards the high command personality-oriented culture.
H.N. Ramakrishna, Bangalore
A new government in Maharashtra is elusive still (Mood Swing?, November 4). The BJP and Shiv Sena have failed to reach an agreement on sharing power, though both are allies and apostles of the right-wing Hindu ideology. Egos, ambitions and bickering over the CM’s post and plum portfolios have prevented a breakthrough in parleys. The BJP has flatly rejected the ‘50-50 power-sharing formula’ and holds the top job non-negotiable. The barbs are getting hilarious too. When the BJP hinted at President’s rule if its ally did not come around, the Shiv Sena retorted that the former should clarify if the President was in its pocket. But where will the Sena go? It is making overtures to the NCP and Congress, but their ideological incompatibility is the biggest block. Will the Sena reinvent itself as a less strident Hindutva-oriented party? What if there are mass defections from the Sena to the BJP? It’s hard to tell who will kiss and make up.
G. David Milton, Kanyakumari
This refers to Maasai Mara diary (November 11). Maasai Mara is the most loved and loathed of wildlife reserves in Africa—loved for its sheer grandeur and scale, loathed because of the crowds. The great migration, known as the eighth wonder of the world, is a scene to behold, with the young ones travelling securely on the inside of the herd for protection from predators. Yes, Indians are not as interested in this ‘heart of darkness’ probably because going from one zone of darkness to another can be tough. But to riff off an old saying, there are only two types of people—those who have been to Maasai Mara and those who haven’t.
Abhimanyu K, New Delhi
This refers to your review of books on Savarkar (Pro Patria Mori Meets Fire and Brimstone, November 4). Intriguingly, the reviewer and the authors have overlooked a landmark event (or non-event) in Savarkar’s stint as a freedom fighter. When he was being taken from England to India and his ship was anchored at Marseilles in France, he jumped into the sea and swam to the shore. It was pre-arranged that as soon as he would reach the shore, Bhikaiji Cama would pick him up in her car and drive him to a safe destination. Sadly, Cama’s car broke down and she could not reach in time. In the meantime, Savarkar was rearrested and brought to India. If Madam Cama had arrived on time and Savarkar had escaped in Europe, one can only imagine how differently his life would have turned out.
Nitin Majmudar, Lucknow
It’s the beginning of the end of tryst with destiny that people made in 2014, not in 1947!
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Apropos the article Money For Nothing, Scams For Free (November 11), it is important to note that one of the ten trusted urban co-operative banks (UCBs), the Punjab and Maharashtra Co-operative Bank (PMCB), has siphoned Rs 11,617 crore from depositors’ savings. A scam of this magnitude would not have happened if the PMCB’s top management, its board, its statutory and internal auditors, rating agencies and the RBI had been diligent and honest. Public protests for refund followed naturally; six innocents died heartbroken. The RBI and finance ministry have to now ensure the depositors get back their money. Bank frauds have become a recurring plague recently, eroding people’s faith in banking institutions.
Seetharam Basaani, Hanamkonda
This refers to your cover story, The Websters (October 28). There’s no arguing that OTT platforms without censorship gives a lot of leeway to creative artistes. Engaging storylines are the driving force behind any web series. The content is fleshed out by consummate actors who bring to life different characters. It’s an ideal place to showcase your histrionic skills, which several young actors are doing. The viewers are able to relate to what they watch. On the flipside, the urge to experiment leads to performances loaded with expletives, violence and sex. Anything and everything goes in the name of realism without thinking about the repercussions on young minds and society.
Vijai Pant, On E-Mail
Your In & Around (November 11) rocked! From one story to another, it just left me smiling and sometimes, in complete splits. From Munnibehan to moolah, from turncoats to tuskers, its range was super and incredible. This page, most often, captures the sparkle of a stray moment, the foibles of the famous, the inanities and quaint oddities that constitute life. Oscar Wilde once declared that alcohol in sufficient quantity produces all the effects of intoxication, but the only proper intoxication was a good conversation. At a time emojis are replacing words, when the joys of civilised discourse are receding, your In & Around pages make up beautifully for a near candid chat, a kind of a rendezvous with a friend without the trouble of going out in our polluted grey city. All thanks to your column that is both freak and unique, and so different in technique.
Sangeeta Kampani, On E-Mail
After a considerable lapse of time, I chanced upon Outlook and what an issue that was (October 7). What with the veritable compendium of writings on Gandhi, the issue made my day. The issue goes all the way in highlighting the enigma that Gandhi was, illuminating the thought process that marked his journey toward attaining the ‘truth’ as envisioned by him. In that Raj Mohan Gandhi, his grandson, figured out a no-nonsense appraisal of the Mahatma’s core ideas about attaining India’s freedom. He has done well to bring out the contradictions inherent in the Congress’s deeply divided opinions as represented by its leaders. Sugata Bose’s analysis of the Gandhi-Bose relationship makes an objective reading because there are misgivings on people’s minds about the two stalwarts’ viewpoints vis-à-vis India’s freedom struggle. The ‘controversial’ Gandhi, as Douglas Allen chooses to describe the Mahatma, is a phenomenon. Allen goes deep into the espousal of this phenomenon in a clinical manner, and underscores the factors that mark the essential Gandhi so far as his actions and ‘preaching’ are concerned.
W. Bengal Debasish Dutta, Uttarpara
Compared to her siblings in the Karunanidhi clan, Kanimozhi is the most accomplished (In & Around, November 4). Many of her Tamil literary works have been translated into English, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada. She has won the best women parliamentarian award for 2018. As the chief of DMK’s art, literature and rationalism wing, she is a worthy successor to Karunanidhi. She even floored her rationalist father when she asked why Tirumala’s Venkateswara needs armed policemen to guard his hundi (cash collection box). The 2G case against her is pending in Delhi high court. Perhaps, her step-brother M.K. Stalin would wait for a favourable verdict to be able to entrust bigger responsibilities to her.
K.R.N., On E-Mail
In the cover story Dada vs Didi? (November 11), we wrongly carried retired master batsman Virender Sehwag’s image and name on a list of cricketers who have joined active politics. The error is regretted. Sehwag’s name was doing the rounds as a possible BJP candidate for the 2019 general elections, but he hasn’t joined politics.