Wednesday, April 19, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Sonia’s waning popularity

THIS refers to Ms Tavleen Singh’s article, “Waning popularity of Sonia” (April 8). It is nothing new that the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, is not accessible even to the middle rung of the leadership. Since the days of Indira Gandhi, the party President has lived behind the heavily fortified walls of security raised by such sycophants as Mr Arjun Singh, Mr Madhavrao Scindia and Mr Natwar Singh.

The party has always been run in a feudal style. A frank exchange of views has always been a near impossibility.

In the name of consensus, it is always the dictates of the high command that are carried as no one in the leadership has ever had the courage to speak the truth. Secondly, the Congress’s fatal flaw is its hunger for power from which it cannot stay away for long. For this reason it went along with Ms Jayalalitha to bring down the Vajpayee government, and now it is a partner in the government with Mrs Rabri Devi in Bihar.

  Ironically, it was Mrs Sonia Gandhi who had said that Mrs Rabri Devi had lost her moral right to rule. But the very next moment she opposed the imposition of President’s rule in Bihar. This inconsistency and lack of ideology have amounted to whimsicality, a dictatorial style and the absence of direction in the public mind.

During the days of Indira Gandhi the situation was different as she had the knack of catching votes. Moreover, the masses still had the “Congress hangover” of the freedom struggle days. But now with the aloofness and unavailability of the leader and her inability to manage the party organisation, people stand disillusioned. The party seems to be run by those power-brokers and members of the “inner coterie” who have failed to win their own Lok Sabha seat and who have never felt the pulse of the people. No wonder that the party has slid down in public esteem, and from within it is in serious disarray.

Added to all this is Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s inability to communicate with the people. Her foreign origin seems to have brought the oldest political party in the country to a serious decline.


Livestock population

This is in response to Mr K.B. Sahay's views on "The problem of livestock population" (April 11). Professor Sahay's contention that universal vegetarianism will lead to a "further increase in the growth rate of livestock population" is a case of flawed logic.

The domesticated species prosper because they are useful to man. Horses and goats are the examples. We do not eat horse flash, and yet the horses that we had in their dozens at every street-corner harnessed to tongas are no more to be seen.

Goat population is, on the other hand, increasing in spite of the fact that we eat them. Universal acceptance of "ahimsa" and vegetarianism will lead to a near-extinction of the goat, pig and poultry population. No one will rear them because no one will buy them.

People rear more animals for the same reason for which they produce more children — both bring in the much-needed cash. The child can be sent out to work, the animal can be sold. Professor Sahay is aware of this important factor as he states that the animals play "a vital role in supplementing family income and providing gainful employment for weaker sections of society." Only he fails to develop this as the cause for population explosion.

The government has to expose the illogically of this "Rural Logic" and convince the people that an additional child born in a poor family brings in cash that serves only to add to the number of people living below the poverty-line, and that the only way to move up the social ladder lies in increasing family income without increasing the number of family members.


Mamata's “mahajot”

This refers to the editorial “Mahajot prospects” published in The Tribune dated 14.4.2000. The entire credit for this grand alliance to oust the Left Front from West Bengal goes to Ms Mamata Banerjee, so much so that even Mr Jyoti Basu has been forced to reconsider in terms of not taking retirement from Chief Ministership.

How long will this old man pull on? He might see the end of the Left Front's rule in his state in his life-time.



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