Nitish Kumar finds himself in a catch-22 situation after pulling out of Congress-RJD-JD(U) alliance | Commons
Bihar CM Nitish Kumar | Commons
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Newspapers observe Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary with special coverage mostly in the form of commentary from guest writers on different aspects of Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy. Hindustan Times reprints an article by Martin Luther King Jr. on how Gandhi “belonged to the ages.” The Times of India carries a tribute to Gandhi by Sunil Khilnani, Director of Kings College London India Institute, who claims Gandhi had “a showman’s flair for symbol and spectacle.”

The front pages, however, lead with politics as usual: the Supreme Court’s busy day Tuesday. SC deferred the hearing on Jammu and Kashmir bifurcation and also reversed the dilution of the SC/ST Act.

 SC on J&K: HT highlights, “SC keeps J&K status quo but ‘can turn clock back’”, The Hindu says, “SC defers hearing on pleas challenging J&K bifurcation,” The Indian Express states, “Challenge on J&K: SC gives govt more time, defers hearing to Nov 14,” TOI writes, “No SC interim order on J&K, hearing in Nov.”

The five-judge Bench, led by Justice N.V. Ramana, ”wound up the hearing shortly after realising that the Central and State governments had not filed any response,” writes Hindu.

Express notes that the ‘reorganisation’ of J&K into two UTs “is all set to proceed as scheduled on 31 October” with the SC “adjourning [the] hearing to November 14.”

SC/ST Act: Express reports, “Apex court recalls its order on SC/ST Act: It is discriminatory,” TOI says, “SC reverses dilution of SC/ST Act, restores original sections,” Hindu states, “Verdict diluting SC/ST anti-atrocities law recalled”.

TOI writes, “one-and-a-half years after its verdict doing away with automatic arrest provision in the law to prevent atrocities against Dalits and tribals,” the SC “restored the original dispensation.” 

Auto sales: In some hopeful news, Express informs, “Slide in auto sales continues in Sept, but better than August.” Its Explained box states, “Facing decline in sales in 14 of the last 15 months, the industry has now pinned its hope on the festive season. It, however, remains to be seen if government measures to revive sentiment has any bearing on lifting consumption demand.” However, HT is not as optimistic – “Wholesale dispatches of vehicles across categories continued to plunge in September, as manufacturers feared subdued retail sales amid a slowing economy and an inventory pileup.”

Others: In bad news for the economy, HT reveals  “GST kitty at 19-month low as economy slows,” Hindu reports, “GST collections fall to record low in Sept.” GST collection in September “fell 2.67% to 91,916 crore compared to the same month last year, driven by the ongoing consumption slowdown,” says HT. It notes that September’s GST collections were the lowest since February 2018.

Express carries a report scrutinising district court records in a Jharkhand district which found that “at least 53 people booked on charges of cow slaughter, or intent to slaughter cows under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, in 16 cases have been acquitted since 2018.”  

Opinion 

TOI: The Times of India writes that the greatest tribute India can pay to the ‘father of the nation’ would be to repeal sedition. It recalls that Gandhi termed the provision, “the prince among the political sections of the Indian Penal code designed to suppress the liberty of the citizen.”  The newspaper writes that, “despite the British exit 72 years ago”, sedition “is an insult to the memory of countless freedom fighters who embraced prison for long years to win us the cherished right to free speech.” TOI highlights that sedition “continues to be pressed against the critics of the government”, and that “poorly framed laws lend themselves to misuse.”

Hindu: In ‘the worst may be over’, the newspaper maps out how the economy is showing “positive signs though a turnaround is some distance away”. The economic numbers released this week sent “mixed signals about the health of the economy.” For instance, core sector growth went into “negative territory.” Hindu indicates that, “high-frequency data on the economy suggests that the worst might be over.” It highlights a surge in vehicle registrations and a slowdown in the rate of contraction for car and tractor sales. However, it still remains doubtful on whether these reform measures would be enough to boost growth over the 8% mark. Hindu suggests that the corporate tax cut was an “important structural reform that could boost animal spirits in the economy.”

Prime Time 

Prime time Tuesday was dominated by the Bihar floods again and Home Minister Amit Shah’s statements on NRC in West Bengal.

NDTV addressed Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray’s decision to contest the upcoming Maharashtra elections – marking a fundamental change in the party.

Meanwhile, CNN-News 18 discussed one year of the health scheme, Ayushman Bharat, calling it ‘Modicare’.

India Today: Home Minister Amit Shah said that NRC will be implemented in West Bengal and infiltrators will be thrown out. Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai asked, “Is Amit Shah playing vote bank politics?”

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said, “This is the antidote for vote bank politics. Citizenship Amendment Bill does not violate Article 14 of the Constitution.”

Political analyst Garga Chatterjee said, “By flying into Kolkata to talk about Citizenship Amendment Bill, Amit Shah has underestimated the intelligence of Hindu Bengalis.”

Sardesai commented on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying, “Banerjee benefits from both Bengali Muslims and Bengali Hindus, which is why she doesn’t want the NRC implemented,” he said.

RepublicOn #NitishDrownsBihar, anchor Arnab Goswami went after the Bihar Chief Minister on the flood situation in the state: “56 dead, no accountability?” he asked.

Political analyst Vivek Srivastava said, “Where is the cleaning system? Where is the disaster management system of the city?”

“Nitish Kumar has failed miserably, BJP should withdraw their support,” said political commentator Prof. D. K. Giri.

Columnist and author Shubhrastha said, “No Opposition leader in Bihar is out on the streets. People of Patna know that no politician is standing with them.”

Aaj Tak also targeted BJP-JDU alliance in Bihar after floods in Patna.

Anchor Rohit Sardana asked BJP’s Syed Shahnawaz Hussain why he was in Mumbai and not in his constituency.

Shahnawaz Hussain said sheepishly, “I was in Mumbai regarding a meeting and will soon be leaving for Patna after this debate”. He added that there had been excessive rain this year in the state.

Jan Adhikar Party’s Pappu Yadav challenged Hussain: “Heavy rains are also pouring in Madhya Pradesh but no city has sunk…when 300 kids died due to encephalitis you were sleeping even then”.

Congress’ Ranjeet Ranjan said, “Why did BJP and JDU not restore the drainage system in 15 years… When they knew that water is being released from Indrapuri barrage why were they not prepared in advance?”

India TV: Pakistan has violated the ceasefire 450 times since the revocation of Article 370, claimed the channel. Ceasefire violations by Pakistan in the Poonch sector on Tuesday led anchor Saurav Sharma to ask, “Is PM Modi going to teach Pakistan a permanent lesson?”

Kashmiri activist Sushil Pandit angrily observed, “Pakistan wants bloodbath in Kashmir so that they can be proved right about Kashmir’s situation.”

Aaqib Renzu Shah, Councillor from Srinagar hit back at the BJP: “BJP government doesn’t have the guts to fight back to Pakistan. They can only fight on TV debates”.

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