A former prime minister hits the headlines, this Friday morning: Dr Manmohan Singh’s decision to join the first batch of pilgrims to visit the Darbar Sahib Gurudwara in Pakistan gets the attention of mainstream newspapers. They also report on detained activist Gautam Navlakha’s Supreme Court appeal where five judges recused themselves from the hearing.
The Indian Express and The Hindu also have Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India on Page 1.
Kartarpur Corridor: Express reports Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh’s statement that Manmohan Singh will travel to the gurudwara to mark the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak “through the Kartarpur Corridor, which will be opened next month”. However, the CM “made it clear” that “neither he nor the former prime minister would be participating in any event organised by Pakistan.”
Hindu reminds readers that last week Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi “announced that their government had extended an invitation to Dr. Singh.”
Sheikh Hasina: Express gives prominence to Sheikh Hasina’s statement that she was “satisfied with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance” that Bangladesh “should not be worried over the NRC being implemented in Assam”.
Hindu’s headline says, “Hasina to focus on economic agenda.” It writes that her comments “showed Dhaka’s desire to foreground the economic agenda which has been overshadowed by the fallout” of the NRC.
Navlakha case: A fifth SC judge “declined to hear” Navlakha’s petition, “challenging the Bombay High Court’s rejection of his plea to quash the FIR against him in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon violence case in Pune”, reports TOI and adds that none of the judges have explained their recusal.
TOI further recalls, “An FIR was lodged in January 2018 after ‘Elgar Parishad’ had allegedly triggered violence at Koregaon Bhima in Pune.”
Others: TOI’s lead is on the PMC Bank fraud. Rakesh Wadhawan, executive chairman of HDIL, and his son Sarang, vice-chairman and MD of the real estate group, “were arrested” over their “alleged role in the Rs 4,356-crore Punjab and Maharashtra Cooperative Bank fraud,” it reports.
“Shunted out, Rakesh Asthana set to get a clean chit in CBI’s probe”, underlines Express. It reports that former CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana is “likely to be absolved of all charges of corruption levelled in an FIR registered by former agency director Alok Verma.”
Hindustan Times’ lead is, “India, US spar over trade policy but hopeful of deal.” It quotes US Commerce secretary Wilbur Ross – “neither country had said a trade deal will be signed in ‘5 minutes’.” It notes that India-US trade relations “have been fraught of late”, especially “after Washington withdrew zero-duty benefits to Indian exporters worth $6 billion.”
Express: On the Supreme Court’s decision to adjourn the hearing of petitions challenging revocation of Article 370 to 14 November, Express says that this is turning out to be a “critical moment” for the judiciary. It notes that an earlier SC bench had held that “personal liberty will have to be balanced with national security,” but this move suggests, “Something is seriously amiss in the response of the country’s apex court.” Express calls out SC for showing a ‘lack of urgency’. Referring to it as “the centerpiece of the system of checks and balances”, giving the government the “benefit of the doubt” and “not asking questions” doesn’t match up to the “apex court’s own stellar tradition of speaking up for those who cannot.”
TOI: In ‘Hypernational Hazard’, the newspaper suggests that the final NRC list in Assam, which excluded lakhs of people, has “sown the seeds” of a “humanitarian disaster”. It states that BJP’s “undisguised appeal to Non-Muslims promising to cover them through the Citizenship Amendment Bill… has stoked opposition in Assam, and other north-east states”. TOI writes that, the combination of a “religion based CAB and a bureaucratic, arbitrary and error-prone NRC violates basic constitutional rights.” It poses the question – will those excluded from the list be released “after serving a jail term and naturalised,” or does the government “propose to lock them up and throw away the key?” It believes that “lunging into these political mindfields” will not only be a “domestic catastrophe”, but also undermine Modi and Jaishankar’s “valuable work abroad”.
NDTV and India Today discussed the upcoming Maharashtra election even as the Congress disintegrates ahead of state polls, CNN-News 18 and Times Now debated whether the Gandhis are just a namesake to the father of the nation.
India Today: Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray led a roadshow to file his nomination in Mumbai polls, yesterday. Rajdeep Sardesai asked, “Will Aaditya revive the Shiv Sena?”
Deputy leader of Shiv Sena Priyanka Chaturvedi said, “Aaditya ji has already made it very clear that his idea of entering politics is to respect the changed dynamics of what people expect of young leadership….”
Senior journalist Smruti Koppikar said, “This is more than just trying to give the young people in Shiv Sena a morale booster. This is a gear shift that is happening.”
She added, “Five years ago, the BJP realised that it needs a generational shift to move forward. For some reason, Shiv Sena was unable to see that.”
Republic: Arnab Goswami discussed CRPF constable, Khusboo Chouhan’s viral video attacking the criticism of Article 370 in a fiery speech where she also slammed JNU students for protesting against the government. The channel said, “She tore apart the tukde gang and the terror sympathisers with her speech.” The debate revolved around dissent and whether or not it should be allowed.
Maj. Gen. (retired) G.D. Bakshi, defence expert said, “I would like to salute this young constable. My country is not a place for me – it is an emotion. You could see that emotion when she spoke.”
Alluding to Kanhaiya Kumar and others from JNU, he added, “We are creating a den of sedition in the very heart of our capital.”
“You can’t suppress the voice of students and JNU is an institution like any other,” objected political analyst Vivek Srivastava.
BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia said, “These tukde-tukde gang members need to be crushed and flushed out of the country”.
Aaj Tak: Uttar Pradesh police passed orders to identify illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the state. “Is this the beginning of BJP’s NRC agenda in UP?” asked Rohit Sardana on ‘Dangal’.
Vikram Singh, former DGP, UP Police said: “I have dealt with this issue for decades – nothing in this order is unprecedented. Nobody should have a problem with security measures.’’ Then he made an extraordinary claim: “ISI has deployed 25,000 to 75,000 illegal Bangladeshi Muslims to affect the vote bank.”
BSP’s Dr. M H Khan asked why BJP had not thought about illegal immigrants for two and a half years? “Many people from Nepal live in various districts of UP. Why don’t they identify them as illegal immigrants? After court’s final decision on Ram Mandir, they [BJP] won’t have any other issue to play divisive politics, that is why NRC is coming into play,” he said.
BJP’s Sambit Patra insisted that, “Any Bangladeshi [who] enters illegally is Muslim. Have you seen a Hindu coming in from Myanmar – no because Rohingyas are only Muslims.”
India TV: Anchor Saurav Sharma discussed the upcoming Maharashtra assembly elections on ‘Kuruksehtra’ and asked – “Is there a Modi factor in Maharashtra”?
Congress spokesperson Charan Singh Sapra said, “Congress won the assembly elections of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan…but lost in Lok Sabha elections right after that. It indicates that there is no connection between the two polls. People’s votes will be based on local issues.”
Journalist Ashok Wankhede targeted divisions within the party: “There is no coordination between party members in Maharashtra Congress… Sanjay Nirupam refused to campaign for the party because he did not get a ticket!”
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