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When a wrong public statement goes uncriticized, it sets a precedent

Rahul Gandhi’s courage to speak up against all that is wrong makes him the kind of leader that Indian politics needs

By The Telegraph

  • Published 15.05.19, 5:22 PM
  • Updated 15.05.19, 5:30 PM
Sam Pitroda was called out for his callous comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots
Sam Pitroda was called out for his callous comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots (The Telegraph file picture)

Sir — It is admirable that the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi, has rebuked Sam Pitroda for his callous comment on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots (“Unlike puppy’s fan, courage to correct mistake”, May 11). Besides the 2002 pogrom against Muslims in Gujarat, the riots of 1984 are another such horrible blot on the history of independent India. Yet, the tallest leaders of the Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, have at least issued public apologies for the failure to prevent the incident. But has the Bharatiya Janata Party expressed any degree of repentance for the Gujarat carnage?

Second, the Congress made a Sikh candidate the leader of the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre from 2004 to 2014. This sent across a message of confidence to the community that was so badly affected by the 1984 riots. But it is difficult to find even a handful of lawmakers from the Muslim community in the BJP.

Third, the Congress has not made it a practice to ask for votes in the name of religion. Nor does it profess anti-Sikh politics. The saffron brigade, on the other hand, openly advocates the cause of Hindus as if they are the sole inheritors of India, equates Hindutva with nationalism and, in spite of the barbaric demolition of the Babri Masjid and its violent aftermath, shamelessly continues its rhetoric on the Ram mandir and spews venom against the Muslim community.

Rahul Gandhi’s courage to speak up against all that is wrong posits him as the humble, principled, accountable leader that Indian politics needs at the moment.

Kajal Chatterjee,

Sodepur

Sir — It is a constructive step in Indian politics that Rahul Gandhi has asked Sam Pitroda to apologize for his comment. Political leaders of all hues, in the heat of the moment, exceed limits of decency in their speeches. But how many of them have the courage to apologize? Recently, Rahul Gandhi himself apologized unconditionally for having associated the political slogan, “Chowkidar chor hai”, with the Supreme Court’s Rafale hearings.

When a public statement goes uncriticized, it sets a precedent. If there is no reprimand from senior leaders, it is assumed that the remarks and acts are endorsed by them. In the last five years, innumerable crimes have gone uncriticized across states. Far from issuing statements of condemnation, leaders have stooped to the extent of defending or glorifying these acts. How else is one to interpret Yogi Adityanath’s response to the lynching of a man by cow vigilantes, where he said that cows are as important as humans? Should not he too have issued an ‘unconditional’ condemnation of the incident? Perhaps that would have discouraged mobs from committing similar crimes thereafter.

Clearly, our leaders need to do more to improve the political discourse in India. It is now up to the electorate to decide whether they want leaders who can own up to their faults or ones who arrogantly defend their transgressions and spell doom for the country.

Shatabdi Mondal,

Barrackpore

Dark trade

Sir — Recently, the prime minister, Narendra Modi, said that many members of the Trinamul Congress were waiting to join his party after its electoral victory (“Horse power”, May 1). Such comments belittle the dignity of his office as well as undermine the values of democracy. Until now, leaders feared backlash from investigative agencies if they switched sides for money. But now they know that the corrupt will be protected and the righteous victimized by the ruling dispensation.

Jahar Saha,

Calcutta

Sir — India’s democratic values seem to be on the wane. The fact that the prime minister is openly endorsing horse-trading is a matter of concern. A leader of his stature is expected to have statesmanlike qualities.

Values among the political class in general have taken a nosedive. Closer home, one is bombarded with loud campaigning in crass language. Unfortunately, it is this that generates claps and gets votes.

Suman Sankar Dasgupta,

Calcutta

Costly slip

Sir — The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, tumbled on the ice hockey field recently. Putin’s ‘fall’ has made a splash in the media. National leaders often boast about their invincibility and beat their broad chests with pride, hoping to convince the common man that they are no less than gods. However, events like Putin falling flat on ice, or Narendra Modi’s demonstration of his knowledge about radar technology, can shatter the myth of their infallibility. For discerning Indians, this could be quite a potent message as the final phase of the general elections draws near.

Sharmistha Sikdar,

Calcutta

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