Writers’ shift another flight of whimsy
SIR, ~ This refers to “Blue and white for CM&’s new office” (9 August). The shifting of Writers’ Buildings to Howrah&’s HRBC building and renovation of the secretariat at a cost of Rs 40 crore is yet another thoughtless decision of a whimsical Chief Minister of a cash-strapped state. According to leading architects, such a project ought not to be undertaken without sufficient research on the original plan, and with a clear idea about the alterations contemplated.
  The project will require at least two years to be completed, and not “a few months”, as the Chief Minister  announced at a press conference. The original plan was designed in 1777, the year Writers’ was constructed. The plan was reportedly pulled out of a locker, shown to the CM who hastily decided to go ahead with the project. Besu and Jadavpur Universities have been entrusted with the planning. It is vital for conservation experts to be taken on board.
  Since Miss Banerjee sees red in the colour red (Writers’ Buildings), it was only to be expected that she would choose her favourite combination ~ blue and white ~ for the HRBC building.
yours, etc., s s paul, nadia, 9 august.
Status of Opposition
SIR, ~ Apropos the report,” State Cong asks for main Oppn status” (9 August), several Left parties had formed the Left Front in 1977, based on a common programme. There is no hard-and-fast rule for an Opposition party to gain recognition; the criterion differs from state to state. In Manipur, the Opposition parties must have one-sixth of the Assembly&’s total strength.
   In some other  states, it is one-tenth of the seats. The Speaker of the Assembly can accord the Left Front the status of the main Opposition group as its collective strength is more than 60 seats, which is higher than that of the Congress. Further, the Left parties had fought the elections as a front. However, it is ultimately the Speaker&’s prerogative. It bears recall that minister Partha Chatterjee was recognised as the leader of the Opposition in 2006 though the Trinamul Congress did not have the qualifying strength at that point of time. It was a special gesture by the then Speaker.
yours, etc., soumita paul, kolkata, 9 august.
Tagore&’s house
SIR, ~ The report, ‘The house where Tagore lived fell prey to real estate axe’ (7 August) reveals how Banjara Bhavan, the rock house erected by Nawab Mehdi Nawaz Jung of the Nizamate of Hyderabad in the pre-independence era, has virtually been demolished.
 This house, as evident from the accompanying file photograph, was a remarkable specimen of architectural beauty, reflecting the flavours of the past. That Rabindranath stayed in this house surely adds to its heritage value. It is a pity that this old building, which was once recognised as a heritage structure, ultimately lost the protection it ought to have received from the local administrative authorities.
However, such neglect and disappearance of old constructions of heritage value are not  uncommon in our country. In November 2009, you had reported that at least 36 ‘protected’ historical monuments in the country had disappeared, according to the  Archaeological Survey of India. Twelve of  these monuments were in Delhi.
 In a sense, this marks the destruction of history, which the ASI has not been able to check. Nor for that matter can the municipal authorities and the respective state  governments evade responsibility.
yours, etc., satadal bhattacharjee, kolkata, 8 august.
Tols and madrasas
SIR, ~ Apropos the report, ‘Govt to aid  madrasas with Central funds” (5 August), I would appeal to the government to advance financial assistance to the  Sanskrit tols that are recognized by the Bangiya Sanskrit Siksha Parishad.
With a handful of government sponsored tols in West Bengal, the private tols need to be revamped and their functioning monitored from time to time. A classical language like Sanskrit needs to be promoted since its knowledge is invaluable for research in Hindu philosophy, Hindu law, the ancient history of India, Hindu science etc. These seminaries once used to impart instruction in  Ayurveda and Hindu astronomy-cum-astrology. Their revival will resuscitate the glorious tradition of oriental learning.
yours, etc., anindya ghosal, burdwan, 5 august.
Devil&’s advocate
SIR, ~ The common man is baffled over the meek response of the Congress-led UPA government to the hostile and barbaric acts of our arch enemy ~ Pakistan. And it is meek even at the cost of our national self-respect and security. Is the cowardice suggestive of US pressure or the anxiety to woo Muslims before the Lok Sabha elections? Some Congress leaders talk as if they are the standing counsel of Pakistan in India.
yours, etc., a k sharma, chandigarh, 8 august.