BJP politics

Print edition : November 29, 1997

The photographs published in the Cover Story in your November 14 issue show the real face of the Assembly culture. Do such people have any moral right to make law? The Bharatiya Janata Party's image of being a clean party has been shattered. These pictures cause dismay to the supporters of the parliamentary form of democracy.

Those who voted in favour of the BJP had voted to keep other parties out of power. Yet it was the BJP that twice showed Mayawati the way to the Chief Ministership of Uttar Pradesh. Did people vote for the BJP for this purpose? The party will have bitter questions to answer in the next elections.

Perhaps we should congratulate the ruling coalition sponsored by the BJP in U.P. for making history by creating the biggest-ever Cabinet in Indian democracy. With regard to the resentment among some BJP MLAs about not getting the chance to enjoy ministerships, may I suggest that the think-tank behind this biggest-ever Cabinet should reshuffle the Cabinet four times in the remaining months, providing an opportunity to one-fifth of the members of the House to become Ministers each time.

Rahul Dutta Lucknow * * *

Your editorial, titled "Unprincipled BJP" (November 28), was passionately argumentative and full of facts and parallels. You had also rightly anticipated that parts of it, if not the whole, might be found to be motivated and biased. Partisan, in fact.

One need not be a pro-Bharatiya Janata Party or anti-United Front person, or Leftist, Rightist or Centrist to recognise the obvious fact that the prefix you have used for the party is not exactly its monopoly. In the present political scene in India, where expediency has driven out ethical principles and healthy conventions, which party can be described as "principled"? Ideologies can be, and are, different from ideals. When almost every party is engaged in the struggle for power, either to seize it or to retain it, can any one of them assume a holier-than-thou attitude in the name of socialism, secularism, Ramarajya, Hindutva or the sacred land of Pan-Islamic utopia? While there are some non-Hindus in the BJP, is there a single non-Muslim (Kafir) or atheist or agnostic in the Muslim League or any other Islamic organisation?

In a serious political discussion, which your readers have learnt to expect from you, this reader is amused to find an impressive exercise in name-calling, employing a wide variety of epithets, including "the Saffron Brigade". It was rather disappointing not to meet the old friend, "Sangh parivar". But that has been made up by new ones like "The Great Lucknow Circus", Kalyan Singh's "Jumbo" Council of Ministers and "this ramshackle aircraft". This is a fine example of argumentum ad hominem, which is not accepted as a valid method of argument in logic.

There has obviously been an enjoyable mixture of metaphors, in transforming a "Jumbo" into a "ramshackle aircraft" so quickly. That shouldn't perhaps matter when our great ancestors had the "Pushpak" with unlimited accommodation.

Finally, the fervent appeal to "secular and democratic" parties to expose the BJP's communalism and unprincipled politics. Who are these - the caste and sub-caste-ridden Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh, or the Bahujan Samaj Party of Kanshi Ram and Mayawati, who were ready to break their plighted word at the drop of a hat? One must be an inspired expert to be able to choose between the pot and the kettle in a trice without batting an eyelid.

D. Anjaneyulu Chennai Dissent of opinion

Thank you very much for publishing our text under the heading "Authors' rejoinder" (November 28). In doing so, you have upheld one of the highest and most cherished traditions of democratic functioning - the right of dissent of opinion.

Jayati Chaturvedi Agra Christiaan Barnard

Hats off to Frontline for publishing an exhaustive interview with Dr. Christiaan Barnard (October 31 and November 14).

It is deplorable that Dr. Barnard, an innovative, dynamic and globally celebrated cardiac surgeon, who pioneered numerous life-saving techniques, was not awarded the Nobel Prize, despite his anti-apartheid stance. This only speaks of the biased attitudes of the Nobel Prize committee.

Denial of the Nobel Prize to our own angel of peace, Mahatma Gandhi, could also be explained on this ground.

Naveen Haldia Jaipur * * *

The concluding part of the interview with Dr. Christiaan Barnard (November 14) was interesting and very informative. Today, the world generally lacks doctors who are also humanitarian. To many doctors, patients are mere tools for experimentation. It was encouraging therefore to learn that surgeons like Dr. Barnard believe in a good quality of life for patients after major surgeries such as heart transplants.

Bedashruti Mitra Raigarh, M.P. Restructuring the services

In the article "Democratising decentralisation" (November 14), E.M.S. Namboodiripad has discussed the need to restructure the all-India services. Restructuring the all-India services should not be taken in isolation. It has to be done along with restructuring the entire administrative set-up in order to make it transparent, to reduce red-tapism and to make it responsive to people's needs. The many layers in the set-up should be reduced and new technology has to be used to advantage.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram Use of the Army

This refers to the article "Army in transition" (October 31) on the appointment of General Ved Prakash Malik as the Chief of Army Staff. It is for the first time that an army officer who was involved in counter-insurgency operations at the battalion level within the country has been elevated to the post of the Army chief.

In recent years the Army has been increasingly deployed to combat disruptive forces within the country. This speaks poorly of our police force whose officers are vulnerable to the whims of politicians. A recent example is the case of mass transfers of police officers in Uttar Pradesh.

Shahnawaz Ahmad Samastipur, Bihar Palmolein case

This has reference to "Stirring up the palmolein case" (October 31). Little does it matter whether Kerala Chief Minister E.K. Nayanar's allegation against former State Finance Minister Oommen Chandy is politically motivated or is intended to clip the wings of his own party colleague, former Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan. One thing is certain: the State exchequer has suffered a loss of Rs. 27 crores in the palmolein import deal.

Those who are responsible for this huge loss, however high and mighty they may be, should be brought to book.

S. Raghunatha Prabhu Alappuzha, Kerala Satyamurti's remark

In his review of the book The Dynasty(October 17), Dr. S. Gopal quotes approvingly the description of Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi by S. Satyamurti as "Father, son and holy ghost". Gopal finds this "not an unkind and meaningless remark."

As a student of Indian history I have the greatest regard for these great freedom fighters. They tower over the people who have been our "national leaders" in recent years. However, I have reservations about the comparison made with the Trinity by Satyamurti and the acceptance of it by Gopal. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English(1995) defines the Holy Ghost as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is defined as "the third person of the Trinity, God as spiritually active."

Christians believe that when Jesus Christ was preparing to leave the world, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to guide those in the world who believe in Him. "When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you. In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live. When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you... The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and make you remember all that I have told you (St. John's Gospel, the New Testament, Chapter 14, verses 18-20,26).

With this background, it is clear that there is no parallel between the spiritual matters spoken of by Jesus Christ and the earthly matters mentioned in the book review. Hence I am unable to understand the approving reference by Gopal to Satyamurti's remark.

Dr. V.K. Bawa Hyderabad

On the contrary, the letter-writer's research and the characterisation of the Holy Ghost as the "spiritually active" component of the Trinity appear to indicate that Satyamurti's formulation was an appropriate one. - Editor.

China and India

This is with reference to Praful Bidwai's column "China's transition" (October 17). I find the article rather too subjective and also get the impression that the author has a pre-formed opinion of China.

As an economist who has just returned from China after a prolonged visit to various academic institutions in that country, I would like to give my views on China in relation to India as far as most issues are concerned. Undoubtedly, China is more organised than India. Nevertheless, quite in contrast to India, that nation lacks vitality.

The salaries for professional persons are rather low in China in relation to India. For instance, a professor in China makes about $90 per month and usually rides a bicycle to work. Even in a city such as Beijing there are far fewer cars than in Delhi, not to speak of motorised bikes in which probably India leads the world now. In fact, most Chinese ride bicycles to work and only some party members or their children have access to automobiles, that too mostly old-model Japanese imports. The Chinese are masters when it comes to doing cosmetic changes so as to impress visitors. In fact, the only thing that is visible in China is uniform poverty.

Even in critical areas such as nuclear technology, the indigenous Indian programmes have an edge over those of China. For example, while nuclear power plants are routinely built in India for decades now, China is still busy standardising its 300-MW plant design, for which it got generous foreign help.

As far as trade is concerned, China, as the loyal friend of the U.S., has the most-favoured-nation trade status and is thus able to supply a large amount of low-tech products such as toys, bags and so on, particularly to the U.S. However, I might point out that the foreign exchange reserves of China are not as large as the Western media have us believe because China buys a lot of hardware such as rocket parts, nuclear power and plant parts from the U.S.

Finally, conditions in China are such that it is rather rare for mainland Chinese students to return home from the U.S. The main reason for the Chinese students not returning home is pure economics, apart from the lack of any freedom in China. With all the problems in India, any unbiased person in my opinion would prefer to live in India.

The basic reason for China being a favourite of the Western countries is that since 1973 it is a strategic ally of the U.S.

What India really lacks, in relation to China, is a strong leadership that can push it to play a proportional role to its power in the international arena.

Dr. Monotosh Dasgupta Park Ridge, IL, U.S.A. Vidhan Bhavan Lucknow 12-11-97 Dear Sir,

In the article titled "A crisis defused" by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan and Praveen Swami published in the issue dated November 1-14, 1997 of your respected periodical, in the caption to the photograph on page 5, I have been shown in a circle and described as a former legislator. (He was described as a "former MLA" -Frontline.)

The fact is that I am a Member of the Legislative Council at present and at the time of the confidence vote I attended the Legislative Assembly in my capacity as Minister for Dairy Development.

Please take the trouble to publish this letter prominently in the next issue.

Yours, Sundar Singh Baghel

Shri N. Ram Editor Frontline, Kasturi Building 859-860 Anna Salai Chennai 600002

(Translated from the Hindi original)

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

The COVID-19-induced lockdown and the absolute necessity for human beings to maintain a physical distance from one another in order to contain the pandemic has changed our lives in unimaginable ways. The print medium all over the world is no exception.

As the distribution of printed copies is unlikely to resume any time soon, Frontline will come to you only through the digital platform until the return of normality. The resources needed to keep up the good work that Frontline has been doing for the past 35 years and more are immense. It is a long journey indeed. Readers who have been part of this journey are our source of strength.

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Sincerely,

R. Vijaya Sankar

Editor, Frontline

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