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As India play South Africa, cricket World Cup takes on politics for page 1 headlines

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Excitement mounts over India’s participation in the 2019 Cricket World Cup on the front pages of national newspapers – The Times of India carries a two-page advertorial by Hotstar making sure readers know where to watch the “live” match this afternoon. A third advertorial – by Uber – features in its front page flap and reads: “It’s India vs South Africa, but this World Cup, fans will win.”

Hindustan Times in “Week On, World Cup Finally Begins Today” is dramatic. It writes: “For a man who wears his emotions on his sleeve, Virat Kohli remains remarkably composed beyond the boundary ropes”, adding, however, that at the mention of the World Cup, “even Kohli couldn’t remain restrained.”

The Indian Express ditches the World Cup for World Environment Day and runs a two-page advertorial of its own on “Steps to ensure clean, green, pollution-free Maharashtra.” And amidst all the World Cup hype in other newspapers, Express carries a sobering, piece of cricket news: “Mumbai T20: Player says approached to underperform.” It writes how a “Ranji Trophy” player has “informed his cricket association that he was approached by a rival team’s owner to underperform ahead of the T20 Mumbai League semifinals last month”.

The Hindu confines cricket and the World Cup to its sport pages.

SP-BSP break-up: Adverts and cricket aside, the common report on Page 1– making the lead in HT, The Express, and The Hindu – is “Gathbandhan unravels” (Express), referring to the split in the SP-BSP alliance.

HT calls it the “grand alliance between regional-rivals-turned friends” and chooses to use the word “suspended” on its current status, adding how “both sides left the door open for a future tie-up”. The report emphatically states that it was a “coalition once considered the biggest electoral hurdle for the National Democratic Alliance”.

The Hindu largely agrees: “Ms. Mayawati praised Mr. Yadav and his wife Dimple personally for treating her with the respect of an elder and a role model, and said, in return, she treated them “like my own family” after the alliance was formed.”

Express sees no room for negotiation between the parties – it simply states the alliance “unravelled” with Mayawati “confirming that her party would fight the Assembly bypolls on its own”, and Akhilesh Yadav “responding that his party would take the same route”.

In its ‘Explained’, Express writes that Mayawati’s “unilateral” decision to “call off the tie-up has shocked her alliance partner. That she chose to blame a split in the SP’s Yadav votes, and not the Muslim vote base…appears to be a ploy to consolidate BSP’s gains ahead of the state polls.”

TOI too writes on its front page flap that the alliance “was as good as over”.

Giriraj Singh: Also making it to the front pages is newly appointed Cabinet minister Giriraj Singh’s “dressing down from BJP president Amit Shah” (TOI) for questioning Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s attendance at an iftar party held in the state.

The Hindu highlights a different angle to the development: Singh, `roils ruling NDA in Bihar with remarks on Iftar’’ it writes adding that this “appeared to widen the rift in the ruling NDA in Bihar”. “Mr. Singh is also known for his hard-line Hindutva stance and remarks”, it adds.

Others: TOI leads with “Most healthy Indians resistant to common antibiotics: Study”. It comes on the heels of other newspaper reports regarding “brain-damaging Nipah virus” (HT) which has resurfaced in Kerala.

“…the government sounded alarm across the state after a fresh case of the virus was confirmed in central Ernakulam Tuesday”, reports Express. “311 people from various districts with whom the student (who was tested positive) had interacted in recent times were under observation”, reports The Hindu.

Opinion

There were disagreements on Wednesday morning over Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s proposal to offer free public transport for women.

TOI in “Kejriwal’s folly” calls it an “old povertarian approach to building infrastructure”, adding how men will cry foul and “in time everyone will get to travel free”. Kejriwal’s move will shift the “governance’’ focus away from developing infrastructure, it says, as elected leaders look only to win elections and don’t remember that “freebies are inordinately expensive”.

AAP should have delivered better transport facilities by adding 5,000 buses as promised – instead the DTC fleet has been further depleted. As for the safety of women, “better policing…is the way to go”, it writes.

Express in “A ticket to ride” points to the links between “urban mobility and gender equality” in Kejriwal’s proposal, that encompass women’s safety and make the free transport move “significant” since women’s participation in Delhi’s workforce is a mere 11% while the national average stands at 26 %. Free rides could see more women seek employment.

Express also says that the Rs 700 crore cost annually is a “high figure” for the Kejriwal government but thinks there are “compelling reasons” to subsidise it, including the fact that the metro connects the heart of Delhi with its fringes where many from the working class live.

However, AAP’s track record on implementation of its schemes is “mixed” and Kejriwal would be “best served” by taking Delhi Metro Rail Corporation on board, it writes.

Prime Time

Jammu & Kashmir elections, BSP-SP’s fallout and Congress leaders from Maharashtra to Karnataka who abandoned the once grand old party were Tuesday’s newsmakers.

Times Now: anchor Navika Kumar asked if elections could be held in J&K in light of the security situation. The Election Commission said polls will be announced after the conclusion of Amarnath Yatra on August 15.

Lawyer Babar Qadri said, “The main problem is the present atmosphere in J&K. We are facing a constitutional crisis”.

Activist Lalit Ambardar commented, “In order to have a free and fair election, we need to have peace”.

Political analyst Majid Hyderi pointed out that, “There is nothing to be happy about with the announcement of the elections. Until security is ensured, and people come out to vote, elections will only remain symbolic”.

Earlier, Kumar claimed to have “exclusive” proof of the dirty money trail from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath to the Congress party. “With the accountant also confirming that his handwritten diary noted of cash received from Nath’s official residence, can the Congress senior leader claim conspiracy?” she asked.

Political analyst Garga Chatterjee wanted to know why the alleged fraudulent dealings of Jay Shah, Amit Shah’s son, were not discussed on the channel.

To this, Sambit Patra, BJP spokesperson, replied: “Jai Shree Ram” as a taunt to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s recent objections to its use.

Political Analyst Ravi Srivastava felt that the “whole story appears to be nonsense. The documents being shown are nine-years-old and diary entries are not accepted in court’’.

Republic TV: Anchor Arnab Goswami’s attention was drawn to the possible plans of delimitation in J&K that would redraw its constituencies.

Goswami said that this move paves way for scrapping of Article 370.

Majid Hyderi, Journalist in Kashmir, was clearly unhappy. “BJP is trying to snatch away the Muslim majority identity” of the state, he said.

Agreeing with Hyderi, Atiq-ur –Rehman, researcher, Islamic Studies, questioned BJP’s move: “Why only J&K? This can be done for the whole of India?”

CNN News 18: anchor Bhupendra Chaube looked at the mahagathbandhan’s future in Uttar Pradesh.

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies director Sanjay Kumar said, “Looking at the electoral arithmetic, I thought this gathbandhan had the capacity to at least pose a challenge to the BJP.”

Political analyst Manisha Priyam explained how “the unwritten script of Uttar Pradesh today is that you can see a strong Kushwaha leadership”.

Aaj Tak: Anchor Anjana Om Kashyap also discussed the SP-BSP break-up.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra commented, “In Uttar Pradesh, not the cycle, not the elephant but the BJP has been chosen by the people.’’

Political analyst Sanjay Agarwal disagreed: “BJP has done no work, they just blame the Gandhi family. They have used the divide and rule policy very well in order to win this election.”

On Zee News’s ‘Kya Gathbandan Maya hai?’, Patra commented that the BSP has always practiced “DM politics” (Dalit and Muslim) while the SP did “MY” politics (Muslim and Yadav). “What they need to understand is that at this point people have moved ahead of this and they prefer and follow developmental politics”.

(With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai, Harshit Mansukhani and Triya Gulati)

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