Fall guy for the Congress

Now that the Congress has bid farewell to Manmohan Singh, it is time for the party to introspect on the way it treated him. All mistakes and blunders of the UPA-2 were laid at the doorstep of Manmohan Singh, and some reasonably good success stories were credited to Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress appeared to be in dreamland because it seemed to think, willingly or unwillingly, that the thumbs-up for UPA-1, by the voters in 2009, was a pat on the back for Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.  In fact, it was the other way around— the people had reacted positively to the work done by Manmohan Singh as UPA-1 Prime Minister.  The people saw in Singh a simple and intelligent man, who would put his head down and work for India.

They had seen in him a magical finance minister in the  Narasimha Rao government, and were more than eager to test Singh to the hilt. By tying Manmohan Singh down in UPA-2, the Congress brought about its own downfall. It is still a mystery as to how a mature leader like Sonia Gandhi could not read the writing on the wall about Rahul Gandhi’s disconnect with the people. She could have assiduously nurtured Rahul under the watchful eye of Singh, without offending the former or glorifying the latter, to allow rightful entry for the former and a dignified exit for the latter. By not doing so, she confined a reluctant Rahul to a world of his own, far away from what it takes to be a grassroots leader able to hold the fort on his own. The result is there for all to see.

Ganapathi Bhat

Hold those celebratory horses

Exit poll results are one thing, candidates and political parties getting exhilarated and celebratory preparations thereof is going too far.  It is rather premature to celebrate on the basis of the media and experts’ exit polls. I feel it calls for maturity to wait until counting is over, or at least, most of the results are declared, indicating a clear swing. I am disappointed with the BJP and the NDA going overboard with mere exit poll outcomes.

Kedarnath Rajah Aiyar

Exit, not exact polls

The exit polls are out and though these may not be ‘exact’ we can safely assume that the NDA will safely romp home with a sizeable majority. The regional parties seeing the denouement have started gravitating towards the NDA and sending feelers to them. I personally think that the BJP should keep them at arm’s length unless it comes to the crunch because too many executive chefs will spoil the broth (or should we say tea!). Even if support is required, it should be an unconditional one, thereby not causing a dilution of the NDA agenda and these persons should not be accommodated in the cabinet. There is a line of thought that regional players would demand quid pro quo, but this should not be the criterion and Modi should see to it that all the states are adequately dealt with economically, irrespective of the fact whether their support is sought or not.  I might add here in a lighter vein that on some channels, there are talks about a Super NDA, with the inclusion of Jayalalithaa and Pattnaik, then why not have the support of the Congress too, to form a Super Duper NDA!

Hemant Hemmady

Proceed with caution, BJP

It is rumoured the AIADMK has sent feelers to the NDA. The BJP would be well-advised not to fall prey to such feelers, as Vajpayee had a bitter experience with that party as a coalition partner. It is better for the BJP to look for smaller parties instead of getting carried away by the numbers the AIADMK may have. If the intention of the party was sincere, it ought to have entered into a pre-poll alliance.

V N Ramachandran

State of the nation

Apropos: ‘Address economic challenge first’ (Edit May 15), the problems facing the economy are many and crucial. Since 1991, free market liberalisation, greater openness in trade and increase investment in infrastructure did help the economy achieve a rapid rate of growth and development, yet there are huge challenges.

Fuelled by rising wages, property and food prices, inflation is a perennial problem; in late 2013, inflation was 11 per cent, despite growth falling to 4.8 per cent. Invariably inflation is not just due to excess demand, but also related to cost push inflationary factors.  Growth has been highly uneven, benefiting the skilled and wealthy disproportionately. Many of India’s rural poor are yet to receive any tangible benefit from growth. With the spread of TV, the poor are increasingly aware of their disparity with the rich. Real GDP per capita growth is even lower. Only a high growth rate can raise living standards, lower unemployment and encourage investment. Next, is the high levels of illiteracy; worse in rural areas and amongst women. Over 50 per cent of women here are illiterate.  Also, inequality has risen, rather than decreased. Given a chance, with such huge challenges, can Modi help drag the poor above the poverty line?

Subrahmanian S H

Plastic will be the death of us

As per the news, Mumbai residents throw nearly 300 tonnes of plastic bags anywhere and everywhere, including the gutters, every year. And then we complain of water logging every monsoon.  Civics learnt in our school days was forgotten after board exams were over.  We totally lack civic sense. This is nothing, but irresponsibility on our own part. Ultimately we have to suffer. Strew plastic waste and reap flooding, disruption of transport, water-borne diseases among other ills.  And we deserve it. Coming to the matter of potholes all across Mumbai, the so-called financial capital of India, a former chief minister fondly harboured Shanghai dreams for the city. First of all, let it at least change the way nearby Surat did, at least.’ When will we follow the way shown by Prof. Vasudevan and use hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste and make the roads ‘unbreakable’? I am referring to a ‘Satyamev Jayate’ episode aired recently.

Hansraj Bhat

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