I was surprised by the disappointment expressed in the May 14 editorial "The Upset in India" about the removal of the government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
This government did not take any action when the state government in Gujarat encouraged the massacre of Muslims in 2002. This inaction was criticized by several human rights groups, including the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Human Rights Watch. The USCIRF said, "During the Gujarat riots, the government of India did not take the appropriate measures to contain the violence in Gujarat, and some high-ranking officials seem to have even encouraged it."
Mr. Vajpayee's government also attempted to rewrite history by painting a rosy picture of Hindu fanatics, one of whom (Nathuram Godse) murdered Mohandas Gandhi. The government initially removed the account of Gandhi's murder from new textbooks and reinserted it only after vehement protests. Further, Muslims, Christians and other minorities as well as foreigners were described as enemies in these texts.
On the economic front, the fruits of growth have not reached most Indian people but have been restricted to a select few.
Although the incoming government will have to prove itself, the removal of Mr. Vajpayee's government is good for modern India.
PRANAB K. MUKHERJE
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Sonia Gandhi has given various reasons for rejecting the prime ministership of India [front page, May 19], but the Indian press, notably the Pioneer, reported that President Abdul Kalam, constitutional head of the state, raised some constitutional and legal issues about her eligibility and advised her that he was constitutionally required to examine the issues.
Mrs. Gandhi's inheritance of property in Italy, which would make her subject to Italian laws, could have been interpreted as "adherence to a foreign state," which would have made her ineligible for high office, according to Article 102 of the Indian Constitution.
The Citizenship Act of 1955, under which Mrs. Gandhi was granted Indian citizenship in 1984, also stipulates "reciprocity" with the country of origin. Under this law, the rights and privileges granted to a naturalized citizen depend on what rights and privileges an Indian taking citizenship in that country is entitled to. In Mrs. Gandhi's case, the reciprocity test would have been whether an Indian taking citizenship in Italy would be allowed to run for the Italian parliament and to become prime minister.
Mrs. Gandhi wisely declined to subject the country and herself to this scrutiny.
RAMESH P. RAVELLA