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In editorials, Express lauds Modi’s ‘inclusive’ speech, TOI says Gandhis now a ‘liability’

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan dialing Narendra Modi is the front page lead across all newspapers, while the death of a BJP worker in Amethi also gets top billing.

And the newspapers are beginning to look beyond politics and the elections with US President Donald Trump making it to page 1 of The Hindu in Japan and Hindustan Times coverage of the ‘Race for UK top job’ on its front flap.

On Khan calling Modi, The Hindu writes,“Ending terror must for regional peace, Modi tells Imran Khan”.

The Times of India offers background to this development: “The Modi-Khan conversation was the first after India’s air strikes in Balakot and after a long poll season where the military action was a prominent part of the discourse, with BJP taking credit for being ‘tough’ on terror”.

“Khan expressed his ‘desire for both countries to work together for the betterment of their people’, the statement said”, reports HT.

The Indian Express chooses to point out that “Imran Khan dials PM with call to work together”. It says Imran Khan “…said he looked forward to advancing his vision of peace, progress, and prosperity”. Modi’s statement came “in response” to Khan’s, it adds.

In ‘Explained’, Express adds that Khan’s call was “expected”, but Modi has “stuck to his government’s stand of linking talks to terrorism. The next step will be clear after a meeting between the two, possibly in the SCO summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, next month”.

The Express, TOI, and HT also report the murder of a BJP worker in Amethi. But more telling than the report is the photograph in both newspapers of Amethi MP, Smriti Irani being one of the pallbearers.

“Two days after BJP leader Smriti Irani pulled off the biggest upset of the LS polls by unseating Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his backyard Amethi, her close aide Surendra Singh, who swung the poll for her at the grassroots, was shot dead at his residence in Baraulia village late Saturday night”, reports TOI, adding “Irani rushed to Amethi from Delhi and turned pallbearer, breaking a centuries-old men-only custom.”

The family “alleged the hand of locals affiliated to the Congress who had old enmity with Singh”, adds Express.

Other news: Jagan Mohan meets Modi, rebel party workers

The Hindu writes Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy the “Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister-designate” met PM Modi “to raise the unfulfilled demand of the Special Category Status (SCS)”.

“After getting a somewhat lukewarm response from Mr. Modi, Mr. Reddy conceded that his party could only request and not ‘demand or command’ the status, a lifeline for the ₹2.58-lakh crore debt-ridden state,” it writes.

Other papers relegate this news to their inside pages.

Express is also the only one to focus on Congress problems in Karnataka and in Rajasthan.

In “Cracks in Rajasthan Cong: Two ministers take aim at Gehlot”, it reports the two “spoke out in support of the Congress president”, referring to the time when Rahul Gandhi rebuked senior leaders, including Rajasthan CM Gehlot, for campaigning for their sons by keeping aside the needs of the party.

The second, “Results in, first overture to BJP by Karnataka rebels”, Express writes. It adds that “two Congress MLAs identified as rebels met BJP leader S.M. Krishna at his residence…in a sign of the revival of the party’s efforts to dislodge the Congress-JD(S) coalition government in Karnataka”.

CBI versus former top Kolkata cop

Hindustan Times gives “CBI lookout notice against ex-Kolkata top cop Kumar” second billing. TOI gives it a single column space, and The Express and Hindu ignore it for page 1.

CBI reportedly, HT writes, “issued a notice asking immigration authorities at airports and other exit points across the country to stop former Kolkata Police commissioner Rajeev Kumar if he tries to leave the country”, because it learned through “independent sources” that “Kumar was planning to proceed on study leave abroad”.

Opinion

Express: In ‘Weight of Words’, it commends Modi’s Saturday speech for its “heartening note of magnanimity” — Modi spoke of the need to be inclusive, earn the trust of the minorities, and to carrying even those who oppose the BJP.

However, his own party and “Sangh Parivar foot soldiers” need to pay heed to what Modi said and didn’t say, primarily that in the last five years, much of very real minority fears have been stoked by a majoritarianism “unleashed and emboldened” by the 2014 election victory. These were mirrored in the 2019 campaign by Modi himself and BJP president Amit Shah in some speeches as well as in Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s candidature from Bhopal.

Express counsels “constant mindfulness” from the BJP’s top leadership to “curb the party’s worst instincts vis-a-vis the minorities and those who disagree with it”.

TOI: In ‘Congress and Rahul’, it says Congress needs a complete overhaul, beginning at the top with the Gandhis and the CWC “comprising an aged, over-the-hill coterie and younger dynasts”. Modi’s “man of the masses” image has made the Gandhis and “pedigree” a liability.

It says Rahul was “earnest and hard-working” during the campaign, but was divorced from the reality. His failures include the ‘chowkidar chor hai’ and Rafale refrain, the NYAY scheme that came too late, and the surrender of ‘nationalism’ to the BJP. “But all is not lost”: caste-based parties have taken a beating and this will create “political openings” — if Congress can reform and create a modern political party that is being run with “professionalism and accountability”.

Prime Time

It’s Modi, Modi and Modi all the way. Ever since the overwhelming verdict of the Lok Sabha elections Thursday, news channels have devoted themselves completely to Modi.

Sunday evening was all about his visit to Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Modi’s home state, and his meeting with his mother followed by a live telecast of his address to BJP workers.

India Today: Anchor Gaurav Sawant discussed how Modi’s statement that “Minorities have been cheated” ought to be interpreted. Modi made this statement Saturday during his address to the NDA allies.

Human rights activist Saira Shah Halim said: “Any positive initiative that is taken to bring Muslims to the mainstream would be welcomed.”

Political analyst Abbas Nighat said it was the fault of political parties: “The Opposition is trying to create a false narrative and they just used us (Muslims) as vote bank.”

Times Now: Anchor Navika Kumar interviewed Jagan Mohan Reddy, who had swept the elections in Andhra Pradesh.

When asked about outgoing Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu blaming EVMs for his party’s humiliating defeat, Jagan said, “N. Chandrababu Naidu wanted a reason for his defeat, he knew very well that he was losing”.
He also added, “We are going to showcase where all corruption has taken place.”

When asked to comment on the poor performance of Congress in the last two Lok Sabha elections, Jagan said, “If people have shown that they don’t have faith in you, not once but twice consecutively, then they should revisit their strategies”.

ET Now: Here the discussion was on the Congress. Journalist Neerja Chowdhury talked about the relevance of the Congress in today’s democracy.

She said: “…democracy of India needs a strong opposition which needs to be the Congress. It is in our best interest that the Congress party is revived.”

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With inputs from Shailaja Bajpai.

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