If Manmohan Singh contests the Lok Sabha election, he is likely to win, given his current popularity. It provides a good opportunity for the Congress for projecting that he is not a puppet prime minister. The question is: Why is he not contesting? With popular support and five more years in Parliament, he only needs the support of his party. For the time being, Sonia Gandhi and the Congress have the same voice, but with Rahul Gandhi waiting to take over, there may be leaders who will be concerned about their future. If Singh is an elected leader instead of a nominated one, it may be possible for these leaders to support him as a counter to Rahul Gandhi. But by not contesting, he has ensured that he has no stable ground to stand on, free of Sonia Gandhi’s influence.
— Ranjith Kollannur
The “Chinese brew in Sri Lanka” (Mint, 27 April) is not being adequately “tasted” by our foreign policy strategists. The same brew has intoxicated the Sri Lankan government recently into telling the American, British and French governments bluntly to “mind their own business”. Hambantota, Gwadar and the Gulf of Aden may sooner or later be the much-needed facilities for the Chinese Navy, which has acquired an aircraft carrier and has started flexing its muscles by “troubling” the USS Impeccable recently.
You have referred to politicians of different persuasions asking for a separate homeland for Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka. J. Jayalalithaa is one among them. Her demanding a separate Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka has been criticized by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government minister and Congress spokesman Kapil Sibal as anti-national and not conforming to international norms. When Indira Gandhi sent our Armed Forces into East Pakistan and created Bangladesh, she was deified as Durga. Jayalalithaa demanded a Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan Tamils, who after demanding an equal, fair and just treatment for them for several decades after 1948, were denied these by the Sri Lankan government that is now exulting in a military victory by decimating them. Yet, Congress leaders termed Jayalalithaa anti-national. A clear case of double standards by the Congress.
You rightly point out a security challenge in the south and China fishing in troubled waters. Besides making the appropriate strategy choices, the UPA and its ministers should stop viewing defence and foreign policy issues from the narrow prism of short-term electoral gains.
— S. Subramanyan
Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s fast is not merely a political gimmick. It is a fight for his survival. For the first time in the 47 years since it came to power in 1962, the survival of his party, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, is at stake. It is a case of tails you win and heads I lose. For his survival, the Congress and Karunanidhi have to win these elections massively to ensure that the latter saves his job as chief minister in Tamil Nadu. He cannot be a part of any government at the Centre with or without the Congress in which the AIADMK shares power, because Jayalalithaa will ensure that the price for her support is Karunanidhi’s head. He cannot cross over to any non-Congress front as the Congress would withdraw support in the state. The anti-incumbency and anti-Congress wave across the country will ensure that the AIADMK front wins at least 20 seats in the state, making Jayalalithaa a formidable foe in any power brokering process.
He had the choice of going to the Third Front before the polls and opting for the state elections simultaneously. That way, he could have isolated the Congress and the AIADMK, and the Sri Lanka issue could have provided an ideal platform for raising emotions of the people of Tamil Nadu.
— S. Padmanabhan