Is the party over?

Thank you, Sirs, for article in your last issue about Indian state elections and predictions about how Congress Party would fare. Your writer read the signs well, even if things went even worse for Congress than expected.

Congress may never again be what it once was, because it was so successful the only way was down. But it is now such a thin shadow of its past self. Congress hardly has the strength to fight elections on its own, but the party’s alliances with Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were more out of necessity than conviction, and it showed in the results. The disaster of UP, in particular, will live with it for a long time, and even Amarinder Singh’s success in Punjab seems like small consolation.

This is sad time for a once great party that desperately needs new leadership, away from the ‘ivory tower’ Gandhis and the need to toe their family line whatever is the cost for Congress. Until that time, Narendra Modi’s BJP, which is at least relating to the common people, will hold on to power.

Irfan P. Gupta

Lucknow, UP

Hong Kong’s longing

To the Editor

Your cover picture and headline (March issue) is a stark reminder of how Deng Xiaoping’s ‘One country, two systems’ principle is being cynically inverted by China in the case of Hong Kong, while the article by Stephen Vines draws a disturbing portrait of China’s increasing encroachment on the city’s promised autonomy.

As ever, the question of how far foreign nations should involve themselves in other countries’ affairs crops up, and China’s superpower rival America is a case in point. The new Trump administration, urged on by a group of China specialists in the States, is being called on to work with Britain to ensure that Beijing respects the autonomy of Hong Kong; yet at the same time the US and UK are obliged to respect China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.

But when 57 per cent of adults below the age of 30 want to leave Hong Kong because of rights breaches and the SAR anniversary ‘celebrations’ warrant the police having ‘bigger and better armoured vehicles’ and longer-range rubber bullets, there surely cannot be any clearer sign of what the people of Hong Kong really want.


Meredith Planer

East Sussex

Bad judgement

February was a bad month for terror attacks in Pakistan, and the slaughter at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine, claimed by so-called Islamic State, showed the group at its wicked worst (Asian Affairs, ‘A deadly strategy’, March issue), combining its warped ideology with an almost businesslike desire to build a franchise in South Asia. There will be no end to this evil situation until Saudia Arabia stops exporting Wahhabism, the strictest form of Salafism on which IS bases its beliefs and practces, to the world. And even the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad ibn ’Abd al-Wahhab, is said to have respected aspects of Sufism, and placed judgment of and punishment for those deemed to be heretics in divine, not human, hands.

Abdullah Shaheen

Newham, London

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