Published : Feb 22, 2024 11:04 IST - 6 MINS READ

Readers respond to Frontline’scoverage.

Southern resistance

Even as the BJP tries hard to establish and expand its footprint in south India, success continues to prove elusive (Cover Story, February 23). In Andhra Pradesh, the YSR Congress continues to be unassailable. The BJP tried to bring Dalits into the Hindu fold in Telangana, but whether this will increase their vote share is a remote possibility. Karnataka, often considered the gateway for the BJP in the South, is not a cakewalk like before, although the party continues to be popular in the urban and coastal areas. Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the cradle of Dravidian ideology and social justice, continue to spiritedly resist the Hindutva juggernaut.

In sum, the southern States are not easy to “conquer” like those in the Hindi belt and are quite a different chip off the old block called India.

M.Y. Shariff


The Preamble to the Constitution clearly states that India is a secular and socialist republic. Bringing the majoritarian religion into politics creates panic and insecurity among the minorities. This is one of the primary reasons for the South’s relentless resistance. The BJP remains unpopular in Tamil Nadu because the Sangh’s Brahmanical values are in direct contravention to the key ideas of Periyar’s Dravidian ethos.

Loordu Arul Oli


Nitish Kumar’s U-turn

The resignation of Nitish Kumar as the Chief Minister of Bihar after severing ties with the Mahagathbandhan, and his immediate reinstatement as Chief Minister with the support of the BJP, represents political opportunism at its worst (“Bihar’s revolving door”, February 23). Although Nitish Kumar achieved his objective of retaining his chief ministership, his credibility as a senior and principled leader has been irreparably damaged because of his frequent flip-flops.

The political drama in Bihar is also a grim reminder of the fact that a motley group of political parties, whose binding glue is their politics of negativism and strong antipathy towards the BJP, is bound to collapse under the weight of its own internal contradictions. I fervently hope that the voters of Bihar give a befitting reply to the JD(U) in the ensuing elections.

B. Suresh Kumar

Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Nitish Kumar’s latest flip-flop in Bihar appears to be just another attempt to stretch his time helming the State. As the renowned political strategist Prashant Kishor pointed out in a recent interview, the Nitish Kumar of today is a far cry from his “sushaasan babu” (good governance man) credentials from about a decade ago, when he was being seen as an alternative prime ministerial candidate who could challenge Narendra Modi.

In his piece, Anando Bhakto rightly notes that the current arrangement is only a stopgap, and the BJP will get back at Nitish Kumar once the 2024 Lok Sabha election is done and dusted. Already, the BJP has taken measures in that direction and appointed a strident critic of Nitish Kumar as a Deputy Chief Minister. It would be interesting to see how long Nitish Kumar is able to survive the BJP’s political machinations.

Katherine Manickam


Union Budget 2024

The Interim Budget, the shortest ever presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, was more of a performance appraisal review. Unlike previous Interim Budgets, where a few sops would be on offer, the Finance Minister chose not to make any catchy announcements this time (“Show us your workings, Finance Minister”, February 23).

Much more needs to be done to contain the spiralling price rise of essential goods and control the food inflation. While three new dedicated railway corridors were announced as a means to improve logistics, the need for a separate energy, mineral, and cement corridor was unclear, especially when work is under way on six dedicated freight corridors, which can well be used for the movement of goods. Also, there was no concrete announcement in achieving 100 per cent electrification of rail routes.

R.V. Baskaran


Border fencing

The construction of border fencing and the removal of the Free Movement Regime together present a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t scenario for the Centre in north-eastern India (“Tension along a troubled border”, February 23). The influx of people from Myanmar, the proliferation of smuggling, and the surge in drug production across the porous borders are issues that we can ill afford to ignore.

At the same time, the umbilical connection between the people of Myanmar and the border communities in Mizoram, Manipur, and Nagaland cannot be wished away. The well-established, traditional, historical, and people-to-people ties between ethnic communities on both sides risk being snapped with a “medicine worse than cure” prognosis. Ethnic blood is thicker than any border conundrum.

Ayyasseri Raveendranath

Aranmula, Kerala


Kudos to Frontline for giving space to a scholar of philosophy who shows us how Swami Vivekananda was a true visionary (“Hinduism at a crossroads”, February 23). Govind Krishnan’s article also sheds light on the inherent darkness of the BJP’s Hindutva proposition and rightly argues that conjectural matters and beliefs should not be thrust upon the public.

As on all other fronts, the Modi government has failed on the spiritual platform as well, by erroneously understanding the exegeses and doing everything unilaterally, much to the chagrin of citizens and religious specialists alike.

B. Rajasekaran


Govind Krishnan V. may have misread Vivekananda when he writes: “The idea of a secular India—where no religion is favoured, where a citizen’s religious beliefs are her private affair, and faith plays no role in the functioning of the state.” Unlike the Western concept of secularism, the Indian concept of secularism is pro-religion, based on religious tolerance and plurality. It was a dharmic secularism first proposed by Vivekananda at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in September 1893. His practical Vedanta is the foundation of Indian secularism, just as Christianity is thought to be the basis of Western secularism. But Vivekananda’s contribution to the fashioning of India’s secularism is the least studied of his achievements. Our present-day atmosphere, fraught with religious antagonism and competitive politics, offers a new opportunity to understand Vivekananda’s contributions.

Sudipta Ghosh

Jangipur, West Bengal

Smoke and Ashes

Amitangshu Acharya’s review of Smoke and Ashes was exceptionally well written (“Addictively told”, February 23). Amitav Ghosh, who writes both fiction and non-fiction with equal dexterity, has proven again with this comprehensive work of history why he is one of India’s finest writers. While there have been critiques of colonialism and its discontents, the review points out how Ghosh draws parallels between events as distinct as the 19th century Opium Wars and the opioid crisis that engulfed the United States not so long ago.

I hope Frontline continues to serve its readers with such long, richly detailed reviews and does not end up sacrificing length for quantity.

Adeline Christopher J.

Tiruppur, Tamil Nadu

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