Opinion poll

Print edition : March 07, 1998

The Pre-election Public Opinion Survey and the articles gave a clear picture of the impact of the Sonia factor on the electoral scene (March 6).

The entry of Sonia Gandhi on the scene has to a certain extent boosted the morale of the Congress(I). However, by denying the ticket to former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and by expelling former Union Minister Buta Singh from the party, Congress president Sitaram Kesri has sown the seeds of dissension in his party.

The decision of Sonia Gandhi to campaign for the Congress(I) brought cheer and hope to its senior leaders. The crowds at the rallies addressed by her indicate that the people still repose confidence in the party which has, though it was in power for decades, slowly and steadily lost its image.

Mani Natarajan Chennai * * *

I do not deny that the Frontline-CMS Pre-election Public Opinion Survey was objective and unbiased. However, as a concerned citizen I wonder whether these surveys are needed at all, particularly in the present political context.

Undecided voters tend to vote for the party that is in the lead. Even a swing of 3 to 5 percentage points is enough to tilt the scales. In this situation, issues concerning the people get relegated to the background.

Opinion polls have an inherent weakness in that they are sometimes subjective and lack the kind of vision and depth that only a few magazines like Frontline have.

Secondly, opinion poll findings that are negative for the BJP would prompt it to explore other ways to win the elections. What will happen if the party tries to create tension and violence in the country? This is a very serious question that every right-thinking journalist should address.

K. Baskar Chennai The Sonia effect

Sonia Gandhi who was criticised as being a "foreigner" and who was deemed to be incapable of reviving the Congress (I), has proved that she could check the BJP's advance. The initial scepticism about Sonia Gandhi arose from the newspapers' failure to assess "the true nature of the Indian people". They are attracted more by personalities than the policies of a party.

Rajiv Gandhi had a two-thirds majority in Parliament not because he had a magic formula to end poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment, but because he was charismatic.

K. Kumara Sekhar Eluru, Andhra Pradesh An electoral appeal

The people of India fought for Independence on a secular and democratic platform and have successfully retained a government at the Centre that is formally committed to secularism.

We, representing non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the United States and Canada, hope that the people of India will ensure the victory of secular and democratic forces in the 1998 parliamentary elections and not be deceived by the backward forces of Hindutva, which threaten to destroy the very fabric of multinational, multicultural and multireligious culture and polity of India.

The victory of secular and democratic forces is a necessary condition for India to enter into the 21st century as a modern democratic state ensuring communal harmony, progress and prosperity.

Coalition Against Communalism, California, U.S. Punjabi People's Cultural Association, California, U.S. Coalition for Egalitarian and Secular India, Los Angeles, California, U.S. Gadarite Cell, California, U.S. Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Massachusetts, U.S. New York Ekta, New York, U.S. South Asia Research and Resource Centre, Montreal, Canada Non-Resident Indians for Secularism and Democracy, Vancouver, Canada. Alternatives, Montreal, Canada. Daya Varma, President, Alternatives, Montreal, Canada.

Focus on Kerala

This has reference to "Focus on Kerala" (March 6).

Although the State tops the list in the country in many respects from literacy level to health care indicators, has a skilled workforce and rich natural resources and gets a steady flow of foreign remittances, it has not been able to change its image as an industrially backward region.

There are some success stories like the Technopark in Thiruvananthapuram. The State Government's plan to develop industrial townships is welcome, but compared to other States, the progress made is more or less negligible. In the competition among States to attract private and foreign investment, Kerala lags behind.

Tardy decision-making by the State Government is one reason for this state of affairs. Much needs to be done on the labour front also.

Among the other areas of weakness are loss-making public sector undertakings, a heavy wage bill, shortage of power, low productivity, the lack of initiative in mobilising and utilising foreign remittances for industrial investments and the failure to utilise natural resources.

A. Jacob Sahayam Thiruvananthapuram Vajpayee

After a long time I got the satisfaction of reading a responsible article - responsible to the politics of our country and to the individual in question ("Vajpayee and the Quit India movement", February 20). When most newspapers and magazines are playing aggressive politics in the narrow interest, Frontline defines its politics in a wider, democratic way.

Srinivasan Ramanujam Saudi Arabia * * *

I was stunned by your report on the doings of Atal Behari Vajpayee. The article presents a different picture of Vajpayee, and my faith in him has shaken. The false propaganda of the Sangh Parivar about his courageous role in the Quit India movement of 1942 has been exposed. One newspaper published an eight-page special supplement on the life and times of Vajpayee on December 25 last year. That media-sponsored image and stature have no legs to stand on. The Bharatiya Janata Party stalwart, like his friends in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, kept himself aloof from revolutionary activities during the freedom struggle, and the irony is that these organisations and their leaders question the authenticity of the nationalism and patriotism of Muslims. Vajpayee must apologise for his indifferent role in Bateshwar.

Shamsur Rabb Khan Gaya, Bihar * * *

The story on Vajpayee's conduct is very significant, especially in the 50th year of India's Independence. Congratulations to your team which unearthed the hidden evidence behind this story.

The interview with Liladhar Bajpai clearly indicates that it was Vajpayee's confessional statement that led to the shaping of the prosecution's case, which resulted in the conviction of Bajpai and others. Indeed, Vajpayee is the right candidate for the prime ministerial berth in the present political scenario.

Pavithran Thiruvananthapuram * * *

Your investigation was comprehensive, objective and fair to A.B. Vajpayee. Thank you for enlightening us on the subject.

George Roshan Kodaikanal Surajpura hearing

The pithy, perceptive reporting on the public hearings in Surajpura (March 6) exposed the malady that has afflicted our body politic.

S. Chandrasekhar New Delhi Rajiv assassination probe

Almost all the news magazines in the country covered the judgment pronounced in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. Your magazine's (February 20) coverage was, by far, the best. It provided in-depth, frame-by-frame coverage.

I happened to watch an interview with Jayanthi Natarajan on a private television channel, in which she said that she had seen the painful assassination of Rajiv Gandhi from close quarters and that it hurt her greatly. The photograph on page 4 of your Cover Story showed the anguish felt by her at the moment.

Your painstaking efforts to piece together information on the probe and the investigation done by the Special Investigative Team are commendable.

The informative article by A.G. Noorani ("Justice vs Jain") shows how the Jain Commission nearly wrecked the smooth working of the Designated Court.

Iqbal Ahmad Patna * * *

The achievement of the SIT, led by D.R. Karthikeyan, in cracking such a formidable case is admirable. It was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Karthikeyan, by means of his intelligence, devotion and hard work, achieved this rare success. I hope that as the Director of the CBI he will continue to adhere to the standards set by him in this case.

Anurag Agrawal Farrukhabad Cotton farmers' plight

"The killing fields" (February 20) brought out the pathetic plight of India's cotton growers. It also shows that Indians have not learnt the lessons of history. India, a major cotton-growing country, supplied raw material to the mills of England in olden days. Cotton cultivation should be given priority in India and the well-being of cotton growers promoted.

It is alarming that the services of the Cotton Cooperation of India and Markfed, which favour mill-owners, did not come to the rescue of the farmers.

N.V. Swaminathan Sangareddy, Andhra Pradesh Lessons of history

This refers to the letter from Ashok Chowgule, president, Maha Nagar Vishwa Hindu Parishad (February 6).

Muslim kings ruled a major portion of India for at least 600 years. During this period, countless Hindu temples were demolished and mosques were built in their place. All this did create deep animosity between Hindus and Muslims, but Mandir-Masjid issues never dominated the Indian political scene in the 18th and 19th centuries and a major part of the 20th century.

There was never any need for any party to rake up the Ayodhya issue and thereby intensify the hatred between the two communities.

Who gained from the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the consequent breakdown of law and order in many parts of the country? There was severe shortage of essential commodities. The common people were put to great hardship in many parts of the country.

Did anybody calculate the monetary loss to the nation at the height of the Ayodhya crisis? The only people who benefited from the crisis were traders, who increased the prices of various commodities and filled their ever-capacious pockets. Is it not an open secret that the trading community is the backbone of the BJP?

The Muslim community too cannot escape the blame for failing to defuse the crisis between 1989 and 1992. The fundamentalists adopted a militant posture and stonewalled efforts by the liberals to find a negotiated settlement.

No one, not even the VHP or the BJP, can turn back the wheels of history. Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

K.S. Srinivas Bangalore Currency crisis in Indonesia

The current foreign exchange crisis in Indonesia is similar to the trend that was evident in Thailand and Korea, which too have gone in for the International Monetary Fund's package of reforms (February 6).

One cannot help wondering whether the South Asian economies would also face the same fate.

Ramesh Iyer Baroda Indo-French ties

I read with interest the article "A new entente" by John Cherian (February 20). One of the issues discussed by French President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister I.K. Gujral was cooperation in the field of nuclear energy. Any nuclear cooperation between the two countries will have to respect international regulations.

France, which relies on nuclear energy for 75 per cent of its power needs, stopped supplying fuel to India after India refused to allow a full inspection of its nuclear installations by the International Atomic Energy Agency. India had also refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under which its nuclear facilities would have to be opened to international monitoring.

Prof. Attar Chand Delhi

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