Continued abysmal performance of Congress

Editor,

The story of the Congress fortune in the immediate future – 2022, 2023 and 2024 does not seem to inspire much hope. The Congress High Command and the rank and file of the party everywhere in India are demoralised. No amount of effort for its revival can work because the High Command of the party refuses its total overhaul – from the topmost level of the Party. In fact, Sonia Gandhi, in spite of her long years as President of Party, has not been able to build second or third rung leaders from among the rank and file of the Party. Today the Congres sis nowhere near the leadership, dynamism and mass following of her mother in-law, Indira Gandhi. As far as Sonia Gandhi’s children Rahul and Priyanka are concerned, they have failed to make an impact on the Indian electorate. They don’t inspire confidence in voters. and least of all in their beleaguered parry workers.
Aain if we turn to the Congress bigwigs who gravitate around the Gandhis, most of them, are deadwood and have no more vigour, dynamism, attraction and appeal to the millions of new, aspiring, ambitious, dynamic voters of progressive India. They have no more hope in this grand old party because they have seen enough of it.
The dismal performance of the mononithic old party started in 2014 and has only deteriorated further in 2019 in the Parliamentary elections. Again, in Assembly elections held since then (2919), out of 17 states thr Congress has failed to win any state on its own. Except for Maharashtra where it won quite a few seats, in Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu it became a mere junior partner by winning insignificant seats. In some states like Uttar Pradesh, the Party was able to win only in single digits.
In the General Elections to the Lok Sabha slated for 2024, the party may face another rout if the present state of the Congress is any indication. It will be very difficult for the Congress to win seats in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and the other Northern states, West Bengal, Orissa, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Goa but it may fare a little better in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madya Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Himachal Pradesh. However, judging from the present political strength of the Party and its dismal performance, the Congress will take a long time to revive and return to power provided it humbly admits its mistakes and adopts drastic steps even to the point of doing away with the power circus of the Gandhi family.
There is however, no magic wand, not even that of Prashant Kishor to propel Congress to power at least in 2024 or in the near future in the Centre because the political space of the Congress has been replaced by the Regional Parties in different states and regions including the advent of AAP and owing to the political might of the RSS-Bajrang Dal-VHP-BJP combine. The Congress has to blame itself for not changing itself with the changing times.

Yours etc.,

Philip Marwein,

Sr. Journalist,

Shillong-3.

Delayed diagnosis & nervous trouble-shooting

Editor,

The Meghalaya High Court should be appreciated for having taken the Umiam dam to the ICU. In the 80s, when Nongthymmai bridge became the first casualty to the new trade doctrine of pay for 15 tons and carry 45 tons, no eyebrows were raised. More apathetic were the trucks rerouted through Umpling, Polo and Mawlai, without any fear of those low tonne bridges. It was a miracle that all these bridges, being short span plus well-constructed, were able to survive. From 1980 until the time when the NH6 was completed, the dam was tortured with 45 tons of Tata 1210 trucks, and then with 60 tons of 12 and 16 wheelers. It could then heave a sigh of relief till Dwar-U- ksuid Bailey bridge and worse, a private contractor was allowed to build it with NHAI a silent spectator snapped into two.
Let this bedlam arising out of the dam teach the enforcement agencies be they traffic police or MVIs to stick to the law henceforth. The following suggestions may be considered.
(1)Let the new bridge be far from the dam as no matter how careful the construction executed, the tremors may be felt. And not to forget that the dam generates 174 MW of power.
(2)The idea of a 12 or 16 wheelers, having to be contented with 10 axle weight is controversial. Plus the past conduct of the certified weigh bridges, in response to the High Court order when the Dwar-u-Ksuid had snapped in which many trucks failed to climb the Laitkor gradient, or Puriang from the Barak valley side, smacks of political intervention.
(3)It is imperative that trucks to Barak valley or vice versa, and those to West and East Jaintia (vice versa) use the Jorabat – Nowgong- Haflong route to Silchar and (vice versa) and those bound for East and West Jaintia Hills should use Haflong to 8th mile. And should these influential truckers complain about the distance let them know that diesel consumption wise, these routes are much more less expensive. And if the High Court is tough, they have to comply.
(4)For Shillong, let there be a transit point somewhere at Lad Umroi. All 12 and 16 wheelers would shed off their load to be transported on the 709 or 407 TATA or other pick-up vans till Shillong. And let there be judicious traffic police to not harass these small vehicles as is often heard.
The suggestions are not easy to follow, but if the ministers are really concerned about the dam and the public they ought to implement them. Finally, let our ministers and those in the administration learn one important lesson, “A spark neglected burns the house.”

Yours etc.,

W. Passah

Nongkrem

On sedition law

Editor,

Authorities have brought sedition charges against citizens on flimsy grounds in the last five years. A law that originated in the colonial era to punish freedom fighters like Gandhi is now abused by governments to quell dissent and free speech. In fact, this law has been weaponised as a tool to suppress dissent and free speech. The Chief justice of India N.V. Ramana had expressed his concern about its misuse. Arbitrary enforcement of such an outdated law has sparked off a debate on sedition law and its misuse.
What is the logic of using a law used by the British to suppress dissent and imprison freedom fighters in post independent India ? Critics of sedition law say that such a draconian law is a threat to democracy. People have the right to free speech and expression. Judgements of governments by people is a unique feature of democracy. It helps expose the drawbacks of governments. It also helps governments to make changes in governance and bring welfare programmes. Instead of trying to suppress public criticisms, a democratic government must introspect, realise its mistakes and move in the right direction. Punishing people who oppose wrong policies is against democratic principles. It is worrisome that several sedition cases have been filed after protests against wrong policies of the government. However, conviction rate in sedition cases is very low. It shows that the law is intentionally used to suppress dissent. As there is no clear definition of sedition law, it is used by the police to falsely accuse people. Further, it is very difficult to get bail in sedition cases.
Free speech and expression are enshrined in the Constitution. Such liberties are strengths of democracy. Judicial intervention is a must for changing this draconian law. Abolishing this law may be difficult. On the other hand, its indiscriminate use can be limited.

Yours etc.,

Venu GS,

Kollam

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