The speeches of the BJP candidate from Pilibhit,Varun Gandhi,as reported by TV channels and newspapers,have attracted incensed reactions. Rashtriya Sahara,in an editorial on March 18,writes: (Varun Gandhi) has,in his election meetings,not only tried to arouse passions of Hindus against Muslims and provoke them into violence; he has made fun of the philosophy of non-violence of the father of the nation,Mahatma Gandhi,and described it as a foolish viewpoint. In another editorial on March 24,the paper has asked,why are laws and the EC so helpless? Delhi-based Hindustan Express,in its editorial entitled Ladka paagal ho gaya (the boy has gone mad) (March 18) says that there is no doubt that the beloved son of Maneka Gandhi is simply stating what is the thinking of his party and the political family in whose lap his mother has settled him. The scale of this victory of the poisonous thinking of Hindutva and fascism can be gauged. And there is need for giving serious thought as to how dangerous this can be for the nation and finding solid ways of defeating it.
Applauding the ECs order,Hyderabad-based Siasat,in an editorial on March 24 says that the annoyance expressed by the Election Commission and the points raised in its 10-page order have become in reality an unprecedented example of a constitutional body performing its duty by cracking the whip with alertness.
Making a plea for the immediate arrest of Varun Gandhi,Kolkata and Delhi-based Akhbar-e-Mashriq (March 19) asks in a front page piece on March 20,Is Varun Gandhi a Hindu? It argues that Varuns father was not a Hindu,being the son of a Parsi,Feroze Gandhi (and in the Hindu religion the vansh moves according to the fathers side). Varuns mother,Maneka Gandhi,too is not a Hindu. She belongs to the Sikh religion and she is also proud of being a Sikh,and on many occasions she has described herself as a representative of minorities.
Jamaat-e-Islamis Daawat,in a commentary on March 16,expresses the opinion that UPA and NDA are indeed afraid of the Third Front,but one cannot trust the loyalty of the parties constituting it. It writes: The parties that are being persuaded to join the Third Front,are sometimes seen with the Congress and sometimes with the BJP. And,when no adjustment is made with these two parties,they start talking about a third front. When there will not be any clear policy or programme of this front,nor would the parties be committed to any principles,it will not be difficult for the UPA or the NDA to break it when needed.
Hyderabad-based Rahnuma-e-Decaan,in its editorial (March 14),says that no mention is being made of the fronts prime ministerial candidate and Mayawatis threat has created doubts and apprehensions with regard to possibilities of strength and stability of the front. Siasat,also published from Hyderabad,says (March 17) that the reality is that the reach of a Third Front to the Centre now seems easy. Till recently,the emergence of a Third Front was considered simply as imaginary. Delhi-based Sahafat (March 21) feels that the front would be quite strong if Mulayam,Lalu and Paswan too joint it.
Eminent poet and journalist,Hasan Kamaal,in his column Khari Khari (unalloyed truth) in Delhi-based Hamara Samaj (March 17) sees hope for the Third Front. He says that common people and the workers of both the Congress and BJP know that both the parties dread the Third Front. If seen carefully,the Third Front has,in any case,a vision and a philosophy. This is a historical act of an endeavour of the soil of the lower level to come up. Behind the criticism of the Front by the Congress and the BJP is also the fear that if political power of the country is shifted from one social class to another social class,it would be very difficult for the upper social classes to retain their grip on the administration as well as the judiciary. The fear of the Congress and the BJP is certainly not unrealistic.
The bearded ones
Jamaat-e-Islamis mouthpiece,biweekly Daawat,has given vent to its anger,in a front page commentary (March 16),at the Pakistani Army authorities for banning bearded students for admission to the well-known Cadet College under its control at Hasan Abdal. It has also frowned on the authorities of Pakistan International Airlines for banning beards longer than the French-cut for its employees. Army bosses are reported to be of the view that while Pakistan is faced with very serious internal and external threats,issues like keeping beard should not be given importance. And PIA authorities have banned flowing beard despite the view of the
airlines employees,based on experience, that cabin crew members with flowing beards are more hardworking and work with greater honesty: passengers gel with them quickly.
Compiled by Seema Chishti