Sedition has become so commonplace that charges against 14 Aligarh Muslim University students is given single column visibility on page 1—The Hindu doesn’t even do that.
And there’s plenty of confusion on why the students are charged — “among other things,” TOI writes that charges came “after they allegedly “assaulted” a TV crew member and some members of the BJP youth wing on Tuesday.”
Express and HT identify the TV crew – it was from Republic TV.
Express writes the charge was for “allegedly raising anti-national slogans on the campus,” and HT says it was “after two groups of students clashed on campus on Tuesday following a protest against an alleged attack on a visiting news crew from Republic TV.”
“It all started after some students objected to the proposed visit of All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen leader Asaduddin Owaisi to the campus,” clarifies TOI. A clash ensued, leading to the alleged assault on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) youth leader Mukesh Lodhi, who filed one FIR. Another was filed by Republic TV “alleging that the AMU security officer and students “misbehaved” with her and her colleagues and snatched their camera,” adds the paper.
Rafale makes it big again, thanks to the release of the highly anticipated report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. Most newspapers balanced the verdict: “Rafale deal cheaper by 2.86%, not 9% as govt claimed: CAG” (The Times of India).
The Indian Express calls it a “shot in the arm for the BJP led government,” that has been under fire from Congress and Rahul Gandhi in particular.
The Hindu, at the vanguard of investigations into the Rafale deal, leads with: “The CAG also observed that the price could have been reduced further had the benefits of waiving of the bank guarantees for the vendor (Dassault Aviation) been passed on to India.”
“The report was silent on offset partners,” the Express notes.
Opposition join hands
Members of the mahagathbandhan met after the 16th Lok Sabha came to a close “in a bid to increase popular confidence in the fledgeling opposition alliance,” writes TOI. Newspapers contrast this with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a majority in the next general elections because it “brings stability.”
“It was felt that poll pacts and a programme of governance would enhance the credibility of the combine given the scepticism that the coming together of different parties was only to contest polls against BJP,” said the report.
Express notes the absence of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party at the meeting: “The absence of the SP — which has forged an alliance with the BSP in UP — and the Left underlined the challenges the Opposition faces as it tries to broad-base its alliance,” writes the Express. “Still, today’s move holds significance as the BJP has been taking a dig at these regular gatherings.”
The Hindu and Hindustan Times reduce the gathering to a photo-op on page one, leaving the details for their inside pages.
The CAG report is centre stage on the editorial pages.
TOI and HT arrive at a similar conclusion: “defense procurement is in a mess” (TOI) and “the process needs an overhaul” (HT). “It is a tragedy. A better procurement process needs to be worked out” (TOI). HT is “appalled” by the process — “JPC to oversee acquisition in defense needed,” says its headline.
The “CAG’s Rafale report,” writes TOI, will see BJP and Congress claim “vindication” — its fine print offers enough for “political fisticuffs.” It criticises the Modi government’s failure to answer the opposition’s questions “clearly and unequivocally.”
HT devotes its entire editorial space to CAG. It says the report is a “vindication” of the government but this is tempered by the French partner, Dassault having saved money in the new deal “and not passed it on to the government of India.” This will provide “enough material” for opposition attacks.
Business Standard asks “More questions on Rafale.” For one, why was Dassault chosen as a partner? It “is unclear” since a rival bid by EADS offered a better financial deal. BS points out CAG has “no assessment” of the money saved by Dassault, nor is this “incorporated in the total cost calculations.”
It was an odd day of news: it saw the tabling of CAG’s Rafale report in Parliament, SP’s Mulayam Singh wish a second term for Modi, several Opposition meetings and late night pre-poll alliance talks.
On Times Now, journalist Sanjeev Srivastava said Mulayam Singh was somewhat “senile” and everyone laughed while he spoke—nobody took his remarks `seriously’.
Anchor Rahul Shivshankar remarked, acidly, that this meant Mulayam was, “A senile, redundant politician.”
“Mulayam is the SP’s ‘tallest leader,’” argued BJP’s G.V.L. Narasimha Rao, and he had spoken his “mann ki baat.”
Aaj Tak’s Anjana Om Kashyap, rightly, had a galaxy of panellists from Congress, SP, TMC and BJP to make sense of the day’s big political events.
On CAG, Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera said, “The government has lied to the Supreme Court, how can we believe what this government says?”
“Like the CBI, CAG is also an institution of the government, there is no validity (in this) report,” added TMC supporter Monojit Mondal.
Asked to explain Mulayam Singh’s comment in Parliament, SP’s Anurag Bhadauria pointed out that he had “given ashirvaad to Manmohan Singh also before the 2014 elections — don’t bring shishtachaar into politics.”
A gleeful BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra thought differently: “Netaji (Mulayam Singh Yadav) is a veteran politician…he knows very well in which direction the election winds are blowing. Even Sonia Gandhi was shocked hearing Mulayam ji’s comments.”
On Republic TV’s, AIMIM MLA Waris Pathan said, “The hypocrisy of Mulayam Singh Yadav has been totally exposed. BJP and Congress-Samajwadi (Party) are two sides of the same coin.”
India Today discussed CAG’s Rafale report.
Congress spokesperson Muhammad Khan said, “The government always address(es) the benchmark price but they never actually said what that price is. The Prime Minister unilaterally altered the terms of the deal.”
To which BJP’s Aman Sinha replied that the Congress had “built a mechanism in which the dalals and middlemen used to thrive.” Here, the government negotiated directly with another government taking out “all the middlemen.” This was “paining the Congress,” he added.
Tweets of the day
Rafale is to the BJP what Bofors was to Congress.@nramind is to Modi what he was to Rajiv Gandhi.
This lives up to George Orwell definition of journalism: something that someone does not want printed. The rest, he said, was PR.
— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) February 13, 2019
Nobody knows the price of Rafale fighter planes yet we are told to believe that the NDA price is cheaper than the UPA's. Govt claimed it was 9% cheaper. CAG says it is 2.86% cheaper. Just shows how subjective the answer can be depending on who is giving it.
— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) February 13, 2019
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