Letters to the editor

Published : Mar 15, 2017 12:30 IST

Assembly elections


USING the communal card as an election strategy is not something new (Cover Story, March 17). However, the BJP led by the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo has fine-tuned this strategy right from the 2002 election in Gujarat in the wake of the communal pogrom in the State, which led to a massive polarisation of voters. The duo used this weapon to a large extent in the Bihar Assembly election to counter the election campaign of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad. However, Modi could not translate his oratory skills into votes for the BJP in Bihar.

Now in Uttar Pradesh, the duo has unleashed the communal card by raising the issues of cow slaughter, the exodus of Hindus from Kairana, and the need for more cremation grounds for Hindus if Muslims are getting them. Obviously, these words accelerate the process of communal polarisation and vitiate the political atmosphere, making an irreparable dent in the secular fabric of society.

N.C. Sreedharan, Kannur, Kerala

THE Cover Story put readers in the picture on how the BJP played the communal card in Uttar Pradesh. When demonetisation and the surgical strike as an election plank did not result in expected gains and with the Akhilesh Yadav-Rahul Gandhi jugalbandi influencing many youths, the BJP and its top two leaders sensed that Hindutva still had potency. The Election Commission expressed dismay with the “inflammatory” talk and told them not to invoke religion or caste, but no one bothers about the E.C. after T.N. Seshan’s tenure. Is there anything wrong if anyone complains about the Prime Minister of India and his entire Cabinet camping in Varanasi to devote all their time to save the party from the embarrassment of defeat? This shows why people call the Central government Modi sarkar, not Bharat sarkar.

Bidyut Kumar Chatterjee, Faridabad, Haryana


AT a time when the news is dominated by stories of murky politics, it was heart-warming and refreshing to see the PSLV-C37 lifting off majestically from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and to learn that it had successfully placed a record 104 satellites in orbit (“Stellar feat”, March 17). ISRO has become synonymous with hard work, perseverance and team spirit for which its scientists deserve one’s heartiest congratulations. This achievement yet again demonstrated to the whole world that Indian scientists are second to none.

B. Suresh Kumar, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu

WITH V.K. Sasikala in prison and her husband, M. Natarajan, far from well, a tainted T.T.V. Dinakaran, Sasikala’s nephew, has assumed charge as the AIADMK’s deputy general secretary (“Acts of ambition”, March 3). He and S. Venkatesh, another nephew of Sasikala, are the ones who wield power over Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and his Ministers. The buzz is that Palaniswami may soon have to relinquish his job to Dinakaran. But voices from within the party are questioning the wisdom of appointing tainted people to top positions in it. The upcoming local body elections will be a litmus test of Sasikala’s popularity.

Tamil Nadu will become the laughing stock of the world if its Ministers continue their peregrinations to the Central Prison in Bengaluru to seek Sasikala’s advice on governance! Strangely, netizens who assembled in lakhs at Marina to champion the cause of jallikattu have turned a blind eye to the domination of Tamil Nadu politics by Sasikala, a member of Jayalalithaa’s household who has no political or moral credentials.

Kangayam R. Narasimhan, Chennai

Indian renaissance

THIS is with reference to the article “Three Phases of Indian Renaissance” (March 3). The writer failed to mention the contribution of the Satyashodhak Samaj of Jyotirao Phule, who was a backward caste leader and the prime mover in anti-Brahmin and anti-caste movements in Maharashtra in the late 19th century. In the south, the writer has rightly pointed out the lower-class origin of the reform movement. But in the context of Tamil Nadu, starting the history of social reform with ‘Periyar’ E.V. Ramasamy and adding him to the list of lower-caste reformers is unacceptable because he belonged to a non-Brahmin upper caste.

Long before ‘Periyar’ challenged caste-based hegemony, there were some subaltern social groups that conducted social movements to resist caste hierarchy and the superiority claimed by Brahmins and other dominant non-Brahmin upper castes. Vanniars (referred to as pallis in old British records)—claiming that they were “Agnikula”, the fire race, and thus descendents of the Pallava dynasty—floated an association in 1888 called the Chennai Vanniyakula Kshatriya Maha Sangam. Nadars, as a social group, were credited with conducting the first social protest movement in the southern parts of Tamil Nadu.

Their first form of protest was to embrace Christianity, which helped them access English education and gain economic empowerment. The contribution of European Christian missionaries to this phenomenon was immense. Nadars who did not opt for conversion and were treated as “untouchables” became petty traders and stockbrokers. When they became economically well-off, they began to assert their rights. Defying social customs, they tried to enter temples in Tiruchendur (1872), Madurai (1874), Tiruthangal (1876), Kamudhi (1897) and, finally, Sivakasi (1899). Powerful associations that began to emerge among Vanniars, Nadars and certain Dalit groups at the end of the 19th century committed themselves to social reform within the caste and sought to secure a better position for the caste in wider society. All these developments took place long before ‘Periyar’ appeared on the sociopolitical scene. It is time we acknowledged the social movement of subalterns when attempting any teleological account.

K.A. Manikumar, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

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