Print edition : June 18, 2004
Congress comeback

This is with reference to your Cover Story ("Congress comeback", June 4). No doubt the Congress has made a comeback with a bang, but it has the daunting task of undoing the anti-people policies of the previous government and making the reform process humane. At the same time, it has to strengthen the party unit and reconcile the conflicting interests of its coalition partners.

Siddhartha Raj Guha Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

Verdict 2004, as you rightly said, is a vote against the Bharatiya Janata Party's divisive and communal politics. False propaganda such as "India Shining" and the Vajpayee factor made the National Democratic Alliance fare badly. If the BJP leaders want to win the people's faith again, they should not hinder the new Congress coalition government at the Centre but extend full support to the socio-economic reforms planned by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The return of the Congress bears testimony to the fact that Indian democracy will always survive, whatever ordeals and trials it undergoes. The power of the people will see to it that the spirit of democracy prevails at all times for a shining future.

R.R. Sami Tiruvannamalai

The resurgence of the Left augurs well for the country. ("A resurgent Left", June 4). The people have rejected the theory of the emergence of a bipolar political set-up propagated by a large section of the media.

The methodology for conducting the opinion and exit polls needs thorough introspection. This is a country where a majority of the people do not politicise themselves openly.

Viji Ganesh Madurai

Your Statewise assessment of Verdict 2004 is on the whole correct. In the case of Maharashtra, your correspondent is right in assessing the mood of Hindi-speaking voters in Mumbai, and that their vote for the Bahujan Samaj Party proved harmful to the Congress. People in the regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada were annoyed with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party because of their duplicity on developmental issues.

In providing drought relief the ruling front favoured western Maharashtra more than any other part of the State.

W.H. Pande Akola, Maharashtra *

In a surprising and unprecedented manner, the Indian electorate has voted the Congress and its allies to power.

Arrogance and overconfidence on the part of NDA leaders, unrealistic slogans such as "India Shining," and repeated personal attacks on Sonia Gandhi on the grounds that she is a "foreigner" led to the debacle. The Congress and its allies, on the other hand, gauged the mood of the electorate and identified themselves with the masses, using simple slogans.

L.K. Advani's "Bharat Uday Yatra", the iconic stature of Vajpayee and the last minute wooing of Muslims by the BJP failed to have any impact on the electorate. The NDA's jettisoning of the DMK and its allies and its new-found alliance with Jayalalithaa also proved to be very costly for it.

Now that Sonia Gandhi has declined to hold the office of Prime Minister, the Congress and its allies should introduce a legislation barring citizens of foreign origin from holding key posts in the government, so that the NDA is not given the opportunity to raise this issue again.

S. Balakrishnan Jamshedpur

This refers to "Misreading the Mandate" (June 4). The BJP's vote bank was the urban middle class, but due to a decrease in bank interest rates from 13 per cent to 6 per cent, they were annoyed. In India only 10 per cent of old people get pension. Others depend on the monthly interest on their deposits for survival. Only the upper middle class gained under the NDA government. They can get loans to build houses and buy cars, but this class rarely votes.

Inder S. Gandhi Ambala, Haryana

The electoral success of the BJP in the Assembly elections in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh emboldened it to call for early parliamentary elections. But the "India Shining" slogan, the exit polls, taped personal telephone calls to mobile phone subscribers by Prime Minister Vajpayee seeking votes for BJP candidates, the foreign origin issue and other campaign cards failed to win the NDA votes.

While Vajpayee in his message to the nation before stepping down termed the verdict a victory for India and its democratic system, many stalwarts of the BJP kept themselves busy making irresponsible statements.

Many people of Indian origin have held the highest executive office. Some examples are the President of Fiji and the Prime Ministers of Mauritius and British Guyana. Choudhary Khaliquz Zaman, who after Partition remained in India, later migrated to Pakistan and rose to the highest executive post there.

A. Wasay Bhagalpur

Kudos to the Congress, in particular Sonia Gandhi, for its splendid performance. The BJP made a wrong alliance in Tamil Nadu. Jayalalithaa's actions such as the dismissal of government servants, transfer of police personnel and the introduction of "H" ration cards, were unwarranted. The people have taught her a lesson. M. Karunanidhi's decision to align with the Congress was a shrewd political move.

R. Srinivasan Chennai


The abuse of the Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison by the occupying forces is shameful and utterly inexcusable. ("Sticking to their guns", June 4).

American forces went into Iraq to restore dignity to a populace brutalised by years of Saddam Hussein's authoritarian rule. Photographs of the inhuman treatment of Iraqis in prison is just the opposite of what the U.S.-led coalition proclaimed as its goal.

In fact, according to the human rights organisations, these incidents of abuse are not isolated but form a systematic pattern of behaviour. What is more appalling is that President Bush has defended his Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to the hilt.

Paramdeep Singh Kanpur

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