How Mamata plays the communal card
SIR, Long before she became the Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee was playing the religious card to her political advantage. The Imam of a city mosque has openly supported her at a public meeting. When the Bangladeshi writer, Taslima Nasreen, was ejected out of the self-proclaimed cultural capital of India, the then firebrand Opposition leader was muted in her response. The city plays host to the Kashmiri separatist leaders’ seminar, but slams the door on Salman Rushdie&’s face.
The Chief Minister opposes the conduct of panchayat elections in the month of Ramzan, but the state moves the Supreme Court to oppose the CBI investigation into the custodial death of a Trinamul worker, Nasiruddin Sheikh. She conveniently overlooked the fact that several university examinations had been scheduled this month.
Will she give the assurance that in future, the Secondary, Higher Secondary, JEE, university examinations will not be held in this lunar month which keeps advancing vis-à-vis the solar Gregorian (English) calendar? The truly devout, engaged in fast and prayer, do not flaunt the rituals to win brownie points. Miss Banerjee&’s opposition to the sharing of Teesta waters cannot be accepted. Bangladesh seeks cordial cooperation with India. A spectre of theocracy looms across over our eastern border. A little known umbrella group of Muslim organizations from Kolkata has gone overboard to criticize the Shahbagh movement as well as the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh, thanks to a tacit understanding with Miss Banerjee&’s government.
She appears to have played into the hands of the fundamentalist forces, prejudiced against the secular government in Bangladesh. The central government ought to go ahead with the Teesta pact.
Yours, etc., Sandipan Khan,
Rishra, 19 July.
FIRST USE, THEN THROW
SIR, This refers to the report; “WBHRC comes to Mahato aid” (19 July). Chhatradhar Mahato, PCPA leader, who had shared the dais with the then Opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee, is now suffering from various ailments. He has complained of negligence on the part of the jail authorities. The West Bengal Human Rights Commission has ordered an investigation. The plight of the undertrial is really shocking considering his association with the Trinamul Congress prior to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. He was languishing in jail with the hope that he would be released once the CPM-led government was toppled. There is no denying that Miss Banerjee used the Maoists against the Leftists to capture power in West Bengal.
She repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of central-state joint forces and promised that she would withdraw the forces once she became the Chief Minister. She had also promised to release all political prisoners. To that can be added the pledge that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act would not be enforced. As it turned out, she forgot her promises once she assumed power. Chhatradhar Mahato, for one, must have realized that she pursues a “use-and-throw” policy.
Yours, etc., SS Paul,
Chakdaha (Nadia), 19 July.
SIR, This is with reference to the report, ‘India has 40 per cent of world&’s malnourished’ (1 July). The real problem is not one of formulating well-intended and well-thought-out programmes, but to cleanse the political process. The country has the programmes and policies to handle the problem of malnutrition, but it is impossible to implement these policies owing to the absence of good governance and healthy politics.
Indeed, Sri Lanka has set an example. The island nation&’s outstanding record of reducing infant and maternal mortality rates (MMRS) is largely ascribed to the political commitment to implement welfare measures. Everything works there at the field level ~ from the public health midwife to specialised hospitals. The lack of political commitment at the highest levels together with the absence of work ethics explain why things go so shockingly awry in India, and why the government is incapable of implementing welfare programmes and policies.
US academic Lant Pritchet has termed this as the flailing state syndrome. In India it is not just the government that is not functioning, but also those at the helm. As a result, nothing works here. Malnutrition should be viewed as an important issue of human development, rather than as an isolated matter concerning public health. We have the wherewithal to eradicate malnutrition. But what we lack is appropriate leadership to carry out the task.
Yours, etc., Jaydev Jana, Kolkata, 2 July.
APPROPRIATE AND TIMELY
SIR, I am an avid reader of The Statesman. I have been reading this newspaper for the past 15 years. The redesign is appropriate and timely. Indeed, the experience of reading the paper is both refreshing and encouraging. It looks more modern, smarter, more colourful and attractive. I would like to congratulate The Statesman for its redesign.
Yours, etc., Raju Sharma,
Kolkata, 19 July.