How Sonia can save Congress

Congress President Sonia Gandhi appears to be desperate to grab power at the Centre. That is why she is trying to have electoral alliances even with parties that have nothing in common with the Congress. If she is keen to ensure victory for the Congress in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, she should stop issuing ambiguous and ambivalent statements regarding the prime ministerial candidate in case the Congress returns to power. Mrs Gandhi should declare that she is not angling for the high office and that she will be content with serving the party alone.

This is the only way by which she can save the Congress, founded by a brilliant Englishman A.O. Hume who never had an eye on any office but was only interested in “the mental, moral, social and political regeneration of the people of India” as he had stated in an open letter to the graduates of Calcutta University in 1885.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi has to rise above personal ambition to be able to follow in the footsteps of Hume and the illustrious Annie Besant. The latter could chide even Mahatma Gandhi who smilingly listened to her advice (not to incite students to leave schools and colleges) because he knew that she had nothing but India’s welfare at heart.

Have we to tell Mrs Sonia Gandhi that breaking a coconut on an auspicious occasion is a sacred Hindu rite? If that was good sense for Jawaharlal Nehru, why not recitation of Saraswati Vandana in our schools today? Hindutva bashing too will not help her become the Prime Minister.

R.L. SINGAL, Chandigarh



Shift courts to Ambala Cantt

For over 80 years, judicial courts were running from Ambala Cantonment. As the court buildings were old, they were temporarily shifted to the Sessions Court at Ambala City in September 1990. They were further shifted to a place 15-20 km away from Ambala City.

Earlier, the judicial courts at Ambala Cantonment were catering to the needs of those in the Cantonment and an adjacent village in Mullana Thana. In the past 13 years, the people have been forced to travel a distance of 15-20 km to attend the courts at Ambala City. After public demand, the government earmarked a land for judicial courts near Football Chowk at Ambala Cantonment, but suddenly the decision was reversed.

The people’s legitimate right to have the court facilities at Ambala Cantonment cannot be denied to suit the convenience of the Bar and the Bench. Keeping in view the interests of over five lakh residents and to minimise their hardship, the judicial courts should be shifted back to Ambala Cantonment expeditiously.

HARI CHAND SHANKAR, Ambala Cantonment

Welcome approach

Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf has probably come to realise the futility of continued hostility towards India. He has been told by US leaders to address to terrorism and resolve the contentious issues with India bilaterally. Surely, he himself has experienced the damage his hostile policy on Kashmir was doing to him and to his nation.

More important, General Musharraf seemed to have appreciated the merit of having permanent truce with India. It is against this backdrop that he is ready to “leave aside the UN resolution and meet half way” in search of a lasting solution to the “K” issue. Subsequent denial of this statement is merely for domestic consumption.

India has remained steadfast in its philosophy of peace and cooperation towards its neighbours including Pakistan. India would do well to be flexible and draw Pakistan into a lasting settlement over Kashmir in accordance with the Shimla agreement. The present atmosphere is also in conformity with India’s stated strategy that a stable Pakistan is advantageous to India.

Lt-Col BACHITTAR SINGH (retd), Mohali


The world has changed a lot after 9/11. When every country is trying to emerge stronger, India and Pakistan should resolve the core issues in close cooperation with each other. Certainly, the interaction between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and General Pervez Musharraf during the SAARC summit at Islamabad was a whiff of fresh air in the Indo-Pak relations.

Strengthening the economy, improving healthcare, providing bread and butter to the poorest of the poor should be their priority and not nuclear bombs. A great Persian king once said, “Great things are achieved through great dangers”. And today when we are trying to achieve great things, let us remember that we must pass through great dangers before we can reach our goal.

SANGITA CHAKI ROY, Rakkar Colony (Una)

This isn’t a sop

This has reference to your editorial “Sops for middle class” (Jan 10). Majority of the middle class is salaried class which feels crushed under the present income-tax structure. Not filing returns up to Rs 1.5 lakh is not a sop at all when income-tax statement is mandatory for this amount. DA which is to neutralise the increase in the price index and medical allowances are taxable. Standard deduction and tax-free limit (Rs 50,000) fail to move upwards to keep trapped beldars and peons (Class IV) in the tax net. Steps should be taken to help the salaried class. I propose the following limits for income-tax:

(i) Up to Rs 1 lakh — No tax; (ii) Rs 1 lakh upwards to 2.5 lakh — @ 20 per cent tax; and (iii) Rs 2.5 lakh upwards — @ 30 per cent tax

KARNAIL SINGH, Ranjit Sagar Dam

A rare treat

I was quite amused to read Mr Girish Bhandari’s middle “On saving face” (Jan 5). It is a rare treat to come across a piece of writing that challenges one’s high school English language and takes one to the realm of P.G. Wodehouse and Jerome K. Jerome. I would like to thank you for the delight and sheer pleasure I experienced while reading this piece.

Dr RAJNI LAMBA, Chandigarh

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