Indian and Pakistani dignitaries are gearing up for the foundation laying ceremony of Dera Baba Nanak-Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan Wednesday. The news that has made to the front pages of all the major English dailies is the announcement by the foreign ministry spokesperson of Pakistan to extend an invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the SAARC summit.
The Times of India has made it its lead story with the headline “India dismisses Pak ‘invite’ to Modi for Saarc meet as ploy”. The TOI report doesn’t mention who dismissed the “invite” as “ploy”. It also writes how the invite could be a PR exercise by Pakistan. The Hindu report has mentioned the “invite” in its story about the corridor on the front page. Hindustan Times writes how there is little possibility of holding a SAARC summit as two important members, India and Bangladesh, are going to polls soon.
Talking about his decision to dissolve the Jammu and Kashmir assembly, governor Satya Pal Malik stirred another storm. The Indian Express writes, “Governor Satya Pal Malik has said had he looked to Delhi, he would have had to install a government led by Sajad Lone, and history would have remembered him as a ‘dishonest man’.” Malik was speaking at ITM University in Gwalior Saturday. The Hindu writes about the happiness expressed by National Conference (NC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over Malik’s “stalling” of Centre’s move.
A leaked email shot by Indian women cricket’s ODI captain Mithali Raj to the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) has created controversy. She was dropped from the ICC Women’s World T20 against England. Reporting the news, The Indian Express writes, “Mithali Raj has accused BCCI Committee of Administrators (CoA) member and former player Diana Edulji of bias after she was dropped from for the semi-final against England in the ICC Women’s World T20… Raj slammed the team coach Ramesh Powar for humiliating her.” Reporting on the incident, Hindustan Times writes, “The entire episode has led to board secretary Amitabh Choudhary writing a mail to Johri and Karim, enquiring how the leak happened.” TOI and Hindustan Times have put the news on their front pages whereas The Indian Express and The Hindu have put it on their sports pages.
Reserve Bank of India governor Urjit Patel played safe with the members of the Standing Committee on Finance Tuesday. The Economic Times reports Patel “strongly stressed on the need to protect the autonomy of the central bank before a parliamentary panel, but stayed away from any direct criticism of the government.” The governor avoided most of the contentious questions but agreed to submit a written reply to them in about two weeks. TOI writes the governor told the panel that the “current level of currency reserves held by RBI is necessary in view of international volatility and to maintain high creditworthiness …” Patel’s move to not criticise the union government, but asserting RBI’s autonomy, will be viewed as an attempt by the RBI to cool the tempers after public spat between the two few days back. The Hindu has put it in the lead on the front page.
In another report on its front page, The Hindu writes, “Reversing its earlier report that conceded for the first time that demonetisation had affected millions of farmers, the Union Agriculture Ministry has submitted a fresh report claiming that there was no “adverse impact.””
Republic TV anchor Arnab Goswami and Times Now anchor Navika Kumar held an interview with Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh over Navjot Singh Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan to participate in the opening of the Kartarpur corridor. The corridor involves a road link for Sikh pilgrims to visit the Kartarpur Sahib Gurudwara which is 3-4 km inside the Pakistani territory.
Goswami said, “I have no doubt that Navjot Singh Sidhu is Pakistan’s biggest fan. He is unaffected by the killings of our soldiers.”
Singh tried to dodge the question by taking on a different topic. He said that the request for the Kartarpur corridor has been pending for a very long time. In 2000, Congress leader Manmohan Singh had asked for it.
When pressed to comment about Sidhu, he said that the minister gets carried away sometimes and probably makes comment without much thinking.
On her part, Kumar asked Singh if Sidhu went to Pakistan on behalf of his government.
Singh said that Sidhu went in his personal capacity. “I cannot stop people from taking decisions in his individual capacity. He has not gone on behalf of the Punjab government or Congress.”
He also added that he was against Sidhu hugging the Pakistan army chief.
India Today carried out its prime time from Lahore with Rajdeep Sardesai anchoring the show. Sardesai debated whether the opening of the Kartarpur corridor means a friendly relationship between India and Pakistan.
Geo TV journalist Muneeb Farooq said that as of now the Pakistani government is not supporting the terrorists while group editorial director Raj Chengappa pointed out that there are several areas where the relationship between the two countries is poor and could be improved.
Farooq said, “Pakistan govt and military establishment have not supported Hafiz Saeed in recent times.”
Chengappa said, “The opening up of the corridor is a great opportunity. However, a lot more needs to be done in order to improve the relationship between the two countries.”
Supriya Shrinate discussed who will win the ongoing assembly elections in the Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
Senior journalist Sagarika Ghose said, “Rajasthan is an election for Congress to lose. The dual campaign by Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot has impacted Congress’ position. Also, more rebels are jumping into the fray.”
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha said, “Speculations are rife that Congress will cruise to a victory in Rajasthan. And there is strong anti-incumbency against Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh, so, we will win that too along with Chhattisgarh.”
News it’s kinda cool to know
Up to 145 pilot whales died in a mass stranding on a remote New Zealand island over the weekend, reports Reuters. The country has one of the world’s highest rates of whale strandings, although the exact reason for it is unknown.