Home Minister Amit Shah finally broke his silence on BJP’s deafening defeat by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi — and he made it to the front page in most places.
The Supreme Court asking political parties to disclose the details of their candidates’ criminal cases also got plenty of headlines as did the spike in coronavirus cases in China.
The Times of India reports Shah’s statements on possible reasons for BJP’s defeat in Delhi at the First Times Now Summit, on its flap. He “termed the controversial remarks ‘unfortunate’ and said those should not have been made. He also said the party had distanced itself from those comments immediately”, something many of us missed.
In another report, taxpayers have halved in one year because of the rebate given to “people with annual taxable incomes between 2.5 lakh and Rs 5 lakh” in last year’s interim budget.
Also, as the SC “passed a slew of directions to curb ‘alarming’ rise in criminalisation of politics and made it mandatory for political parties to justify fielding tainted persons in polls”, TOI revealed that upto one-third of lawmakers face “criminal cases”.
A PIO makes headlines: UK appointed a new finance minister, “Rishi Sunak, son-in-law of Infosys founder N R Narayana Murthy”, making him the fourth person of Indian origin to be part of Johnson’s cabinet.
An interesting read is about the officer “demoted for sharing “offensive, derogatory, demeaning and sarcastic” posts against PM Narendra Modi, some ministers and CMs on social media.
The Indian Express highlights Shah’s defense of his “current” remark before the Delhi polls — “I had said nothing wrong…”. Shah also admitted that “his assessment of the poll outcome went wrong”.
The most interesting page 1 story is about women voters who made all the difference in the Delhi elections: A Lokniti-CSDS survey noted that the number of women voters not only matched their male counterparts but also “overwhelmingly” voted for the winning AAP — 60 per cent to 49 per cent for men.
Also, in the “largest mass retirement of employees in the country”, almost 93,000 BSNL staffers have “opted for voluntary retirement” mostly to “free up a lot of real estate”.
There’s also a small item about how a six-feet wall, which was being built in Ahmedabad to mask a slum during Donald Trump’s visit, has now been reduced to four-feet.
Hindustan Times reduces Shah’s comments to a box item, perhaps because he spoke at the paper’s rival — Bennet Coleman. Read the piece on “non-disclosure common in polls” which states that out of the “1,441 candidates with criminal cases against them….”, 534 did not publicise details of the cases.
HT reports that “By-elections to over 12,500 panchayat seats in Jammu & Kashmir will be held in eight phases from March 5.” And a Twitter spat between External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and historian Ramchandra Guha over Nehru and Patel is also reported, as is a detailed account of the cricket bookie Sanjay Chawla.
In other news, the Maharashtra government agreed to transfer the Elgar Parishad case to the central government although it was “contested by NCP’, one of the coalition partners.
The Hindu has an exclusive lead on trade talks with the US. “U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has put off his trip to India this week,” amid allegations of US-India trade talks having hit a “rough patch”. The paper adds, “…there is still a considerable chance that he would visit as a part of Mr. Trump’s entourage to finalise a trade package.”
Also read, the Karnataka High Court’s decision to slap Section 144 during CAA protests “illegal”. The report adds, “The court held that the order did not stand judicial scrutiny in terms of the parameters laid down by the Supreme Court.”
A year after the Pulwama attack in Kashmir, Hindu remembers a slain jawan, with an emotional visit to his family.
The Telegraph is back in form with its lead headline, punning on Amit Shah’s rebuke on “goli maaro” remarks during the Delhi campaign.
The tiff between India’s foreign minister and a leading historian over Nehru and Patel features here too, and there’s an anchor piece on IIT Mumbai’s discovery, along with other scientific bodies, that yogurt made of pure cow’s milk has more health benefits than curd made from other milk.
Amit Shah’s regret and the apex court’s orders on criminal cases also rule The New Indian Express’s front page. A half-page advertisement limits the number of reports. The other interesting, albeit shocking, story is about the Environment Ministry giving a green signal to the Ennore thermal plant despite the Expert Appraisal Committee “turning down Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation Ltd’s request seeking an exemption to a public hearing” (necessary to obtain a clearance).
In its lead Mumbai Mirror writes, “Mira Road-based father of Sonali Thakkar – who is stuck aboard Diamond Princess at Yokohama – says there has been no help from the government.” Another report covers the arrest of 300 agents “48 of them in Mumbai, for illegally cornering hundreds of thousands of tickets on major routes every day.”
The Tribune gives prominence to the eight-phase panchayat bypoll in J&K scheduled for March. Interestingly, the paper notes, “panchayat polls will be held on a party basis this time”. In 2018, under the Governor, they were held on a non-party basis.
Meanwhile, the political scuffle on Twitter over whether Jawaharlal Nehru excluded Sardar Vallabhai Patel from the first cabinet is causing quite the rage. Even Tribune has taken notice of the clash between Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Economic Times offers some hope on the economy: rating agency S&P predicts that India’s economic growth will recover and hit 7.4 per cent in 2022. Also, 14 companies including foreign banks, private equity funds and other local non-bank lenders, are now “lining up” to buy bankrupt mortgage lender Dewan Housing Finance’s “entire retail portfolio worth Rs 32000 crore”. There’s also a small item about Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s visit to India this month, which might or might not coincide with US President Donald Trump’s visit.
Mint is alarmed by the rise in coronavirus deaths in Hubei province after China “broadened the case definition”. It also notes the cases of passengers being quarantined in Kolkata and Delhi airport for suspected novel coronavirus.
The N.K. Singh-led Fifteenth Finance Commission’s recommendations to amend the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act will come as a breather to states. The paper notes that it will allow states to invoke the “escape clause” to breach their mandated fiscal deficit giving them the flexibility to “respond to economic shocks”.
In some good news for the telecom industry, Vodafone has managed to narrow “its net loss to ₹6,438.8 crore in the Dec quarter from the ₹50,922 crore in the Sep quarter”.
Indian companies seem to have profited from China’s tragic fate as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Business Standard which cites the case of Bharti Airtel’s subsidiary Network i2i that has managed that raised $250 million from overseas markets.
The paper also reports that the Income Tax department has already identified 50 central and state public sector undertaking to be covered by the central government’s tax-row legislation — the Vivad se Vishwas scheme. “More ticket, more languages and better scripts” have increased box office sales. The paper observes that Indians bought 1.03 bullion moves tickets last year spending Rs 10,948 crore.
The paper also tells us of the “meteoric’’ rise of Rishi Sunak, who just five years ago became an MP after his “surprise choice’’ to replace former British foreign secretary William Hague as a candidate from Richmond, Yorkshire.