The Sonia effect

Print edition : February 07, 1998

The effect of Sonia Gandhi's entry on the election scene was summed up in your editorial "Sonia's liturgy" (Frontline, February 6).

In his interview, Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, a Sonia-loyalist-turned-BJP-loyalist, has said that the BJP has realised much more than any other party that it had to pay a heavy price for the "faux pas" of December 6, 1992.

In that case, to make amends will the BJP agree to build a mosque in the same place where the Babri Masjid stood?

Whatever Kumaramangalam or anyone else may say, it is clear that the BJP has not discarded its original Hindutva plank.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram * * *

This has reference to "Counting on Sonia" (January 23).

It would not be wrong to say that Sonia's decision to campaign for the Congress(I) will help the party restore its past glory. The entry of a representative of the Nehru family into active politics will help the party win more seats or at least stop the flight of leaders from the party.

For nearly three decades, Sonia has been part of a family whose members ruled the country. She has been through its struggles and sacrifices, ups and downs, triumph and tragedy. She has seen this country turn to the family for leadership; she has also seen this country turn its back on the family. She has neither run away nor lost heart. She understands, through living experience, that politics in this land is based on a vibrant democracy.

She, therefore, knows better than anyone else, that it is not what her family has done but what she herself does that will make or break her career if she were to throw herself into the political arena.

Md. Firoz Alam East Champaran, Bihar * * * C.P. Mathews-Merkle Geneva M.S. Subbulakshmi

This has reference to the editorial and the article on M.S. Subbulakshmi, who has been recently honoured with Bharat Ratna (February 6, 1998). The gifted singer deserves the great honour. Her varied contribution to the enrichment of Carnatic music and Hindustani music is well known. Countless benefit concerts rendered by M.S. have fetched a lot of money that has helped many an institution to grow. An ardent disciple of "Periyaval", the Paramacharya of the Kanchi math, she is an unostentatious person. As Gowri Ramnarayan has written, her favourite song "Kattrinile Varum Geetham", written by Kalki, is a perennial source of inner peace to her fans. Cassettes containing her "Vishnusahasranamam" and "Venkatesa Suprabhatam" are prized possessions in many households.

Mani Natarajan Chennai * * *

In response to your Cover Story on M.S. (December 31, 1993) I wrote a letter, which was published in your January 28, 1994 issue. I said: "Each page is worth framing. The Bharat Ratna is overdue to the 'mother of sangeetha'. "

P.S. Seshan Bangalore BJP's rise

This refers to your cover story "BJP and Friends" and the editorial "Saffron deflation" (January 23). Even though several parties denounce the BJP as "anti-secular" many leaders of the Congress and other parties have joined the BJP and several political parties have entered into alliances with the party. This is not because the BJP has great charismatic leaders who can lead the party to a majority in the Lok Sabha or because the secular parties have failed to halt the BJP's onward march. The BJP's strength is that the BJP, as the only "Hindu nationalist party" on the scene, is certain to become the only choice of members of the majority Hindu community sooner or later. In the north, the Hindu electorate has swung towards the BJP, breaking their ties with the Congress that led the freedom struggle. After achieving freedom, the next goal and logical step of the majority community is to wrest power, even if it may work to the detriment of other religious communities.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh * * *

Your editorial, "Saffron deflation", says: "The BJP is indeed a party with a difference: not even the Congress can hold a candle to the BJP when it comes to corrupting the democratic system..." I do not agree with your perception. I would not say what the BJP did in Uttar Pradesh is correct. But whatever happened there makes political sense. The BJP demanded the removal of Governor Romesh Bhandari because of his nexus with Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam Singh was ruling the State by proxy. The BJP's demand was not accepted because Mulayam Singh was influential at the Centre. Under such circumstances, the BJP had to do what it did in U.P.

Randhir Tomar Ambala, Haryana Historic duty

As a Communist supporter and an active member of the Students Federation of India, I have some suggestions to the Left parties. It is the duty of the Left to fight the policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation and lead the country out of problems like communalism, casteism, corruption, regionalism, feudalism and unemployment. The Left should lead the country courageously by taking up the leadership of the next government.

R.V. Santhosh Kumar Thiruvananthapuram Viswanathan Anand

Viswanathan Anand has proved by his talent, skill, efficiency and competency that he is the best chess player. It is evident that sooner or later he will become the world chess champion. Chess lovers in India and abroad are delighted by his excellent performance. It takes a lot of dedication, perseverance and hard work to become a chess champion. Your article on Anand ("Close to the crown", January 23) was pleasing.

Bhupen Bose Dum Dum Park, Calcutta Karnataka-based banks

"From a modest beginning of serving community needs in Dakshina Kannada, Karnataka-based banks have come a long way" is an apt lead for the article "A tradition in banking" (January 23). All the banks that originated in Dakshina Kannada district were started by professionals, agriculturists or petty traders, and not by big industrialists. They did not have the backing of any industrial house. The motivation was to relieve the petty trader and the harassed agriculturist from the clutches of usurious moneylenders.

The banking industry in Dakshina Kannada was part of the nationalist movement. Syndicate Bank and Karnataka Bank were pioneers in agricultural lending and what is now called priority sector lending.

K.C. Kalkura Kurnool The stability slogan

One cannot take exception to Praful Bidwai's rejection of the plea for 'stability' as the dominant slogan for the elections ("The stability slogan", January 23). Freedom may be defined as "turbulent popular sovereignty", and security as 'stability' with a tendency to lead to authoritarian rule. It is easy then to see the underlying philosophy of the argument in the statement: "Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither."

Raghuram Ekambaram Jaipur 'Our Man in Malgudi'

The three-part book excerpts from K. Natwar Singh, "Our Man in Malgudi", was interesting. Frontline should once again invite R.K. Narayan, the living legend, to write for it regularly.

Bijay Kumar Jha Madhubani, Bihar Reply from KAC

With reference to the article "A hawala trail" (Frontline, February 6, 1998), the executive director of the Kashmiri-American Council based in Washington D.C., Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai, has sent the following reply to questions faxed to him during the preparation of the article, questions that were mentioned in the article as having been faxed to KAC. The reply was received after the article went to press:

Thank you for referring directly to me questions that have arisen in your mind about the role of the Kashmiri-American Council (KAC). KAC has steadfastly maintained that peaceful talks are the only way to resolve the Kashmir dispute. KAC is maintaining this constructive position, despite the outrage caused, and the suffering inflicted on our people, by the Indian forces.

I have personally been of the opinion that there can be no military solution to the Kashmir dispute. It is a political issue that needs a political solution. In order to achieve this end, we have tried to persuade the major capitals of the world that peace in Kashmir is an urgent need.

KAC has never sent a single penny to any individual or organisation, be it a 'militant' or political entity inside the State of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of the ceasefire line (CFL). In my capacity as the executive director of KAC, I have extended hospitality to the leader of the APHC (All Parties Hurriyat Conference) and various human rights organisations during the course of their visits to Washington, D.C. Hospitality, after all, is a part of the rich Kashmiri heritage.

I would like to clarify that:

1. I have never met with Shafi Mir, and thus was never in a position to ask him to have any covert or overt contacts with Ghaffar Sofi.

2. I have known Ghaffar Sofi as an attorney. However, the last time I met him was in 1980. Since then, I have never even talked to him. While I have heard about the existence of the Kashmir Medical Trust, KAC has never funded this or any other trust, directly or indirectly.

3. I am not aware of these allegations except through your fax. Certainly, this is news to me. Without doubt, these are simply false and baseless allegations.

4. KAC does not fund insurgent groups. As I have stated above, KAC believes in political negotiations and not in military outcomes. Likewise, KAC has never funded any charitable organisation in Kashmir.

I hope that fairminded people in India, Pakistan as well as Kashmir can help convince the world community that the resolution of the Kashmir dispute would bring peace and prosperity not only to the tiny region of Kashmir but to the whole of South Asia.

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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