SIR, ~ Apropos Rajinder Puri&’s letter, “Great Opportunity” (26 May), the BJP is not what it was under the leadership of Atal Behari Vajpayee. The party has lost its cohesion and in-house bickering has become acute. The leaders are all senior citizens, who have outlived their utility. They should retire from active politics and encourage the younger lot to confront the Congress and other opponents.
Unlike the Congress Party, which is led by an icon of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty with the support of sycophants, the BJP is practically rudderless. It has several leaders aspiring for the Prime Minister&’s post, oblivious of whether the people will vote the party to power.
It is because of the internal squabbles and power struggles that the BJP has lost  two important states despite reasonably good performance ~ Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. It has been defeated in Karnataka because of corruption, greed and misgovernance. Under such circumstances, unless the BJP functions as a cohesive party, it might get wiped out in the next Lok Sabha elections.
yours, etc., ac dutta, serampore, hooghly, 17 June
Aruna Roy&’s resignation
SIR, ~ Social activist Aruna Roy&’s resignation from the National Advisory Council, headed by Sonia Gandhi, is reminiscent of the withdrawal of Left support to UPA-I in 2008 over the Indo-US nuclear deal, which is yet to be formalised.  The CPI-M pulled out at the behest of Prakash Karat, the  party&’s general secretary. The net losers will be the Left, whose representation in the Lok Sabha might dwindle further in 2014. The Nehruvian variety of socialists, the Lohia socialists and the undivided CPI were natural allies in governance in the context of Indian democracy. Today&’s Maoists have taken over the political space vacated by Communists and neo-socialists. In the net, it is the poor who have suffered. Aruna Roy&’s angst is not justified.
As Prime Minister, Mr Manmohan Singh has to carry the people and the footsoldiers with him. The party cannot approve of the daily wage of Rs 400 to Rs 500 earned by a Kerala toddy-tapper or coconut picker to keep pace with a worker under the Mahatma Gandhi NREGS. The landowners of Bihar and certain other states are already under serious economic stress during the kharif season when there is a shortage of workers who migrate to Punjab and other states during the sowing and harvesting season. Coconut farming has already taken over paddy lands in Kerala which are no longer economical. The NREGS and other rural development schemes have been effective against recurrent famines in central and western India in the 17th and 18th centuries as narrated by Philip Mason in his epic, The Men who ruled India. In 1609, Captain William Hawkins had moved with a contingent of 50 Pathan troops towards Agra to present Emperor Jahangir with the Charter granted to the East India Company by Queen Elizabeth I. It was addressed to Akbar Badsha in 1600 for permission for trading in India.
Ms Roy ought to reconsider whether she should abandon the target group midstream. The focus should be on how best to help the poor and the rest of the country.
yours, etc., akm hasan, kolkata, 1 june.
Promises to keep
SIR, ~ The recent Maoist attack at Dharba in Chhattisgarh, which claimed 27 lives including that of a Congress leader, confirms that terrorists are very much active. Despite the prolonged discourse on how to tackle the Maoists, the government had failed to check their activities.
  It bears recall that in 2011, the then home minister, Mr P Chidambaram, had said with confidence that the Naxals would be “uprooted completely” by 2013. He also said that after wiping out the terrorist groups, major industries would be set up in those areas. As the present finance minister, Mr Chidambaram can perhaps afford to forget that assurance. The Home portfolio can perhaps be restored to him so that he can keep his promise.
yours, etc., dk choudhury, howrah, 6 june.
Date of the film
SIR, ~ I was happy to note a positive reaction to my Now and Again piece, “Mrinal&’s borrowed time”, conveyed by Prof PS Ghoshdastidar who apparently enjoyed reading it as indicated in his letter, “Encounter with Mrinal” (5 June). His reference to the film, Mrigaya inadvertently pointed to the mistake I made when I mentioned Khandar (The Ruins) as Mrinal Sen&’s first Hindi venture. Khandar, in fact, was Sen&’s third Hindi venture, the first and second being Bhuvan Shome (1969), followed by Mrigaya (1975). Thanks for the letter reminding me of this factual error.
yours, etc., anit mukerjea, kolkata, 8 june.
Fuel economics
SIR, ~ Petrol and diesel prices are fluctuating all too often. It  appears that the government has been influenced by the oil-producing cartel. This might benefit the oil companies, but neither the country’s economy nor the people at large. To determine the prices of petrol and diesel, a mechanism ought to be formulated when the Union budget is presented every year. On their part, the oil companies should take proper measures to restructure their costs and cut down  expenses.
yours, etc., ranendranath sinha, howrah, 10 june.