The front pages of all newspapers Wednesday highlight Congress leader P. Chidambaram’s anticipatory bail application in two cases of alleged corruption being rejected by the Delhi High Court Tuesday and the subsequent developments.
Interestingly, The Times of India manages to report on the R N Kao Memorial lecture delivered by the Home Minister when, as it said, the event “was not open to the media” – itself a “break from tradition.”.
“Amit Shah justified the need for abrogation of Article 370, saying it was coming in the way of development of the state and allowed corruption to thrive” writes TOI.
Chidambaram: Newspapers have different takes on the Chidambaram case. The Hindu chooses to give the story lower billing and begin the story at the end of day when “CBI and ED teams visit Chidambaram’s house”. The Times of India gives a more sensational twist with its headline, “Chidambaram goes missing after HC refuses to give anticipatory bail.” The Indian Express and Hindustan Times give prominence to the denial of bail, headlining “Chidambaram bail denied, ED & CBI knock on his door” and “Anticipatory bail denied, PC gets visits by CBI, ED” respectively.
Express calls this a “major setback to Congress leader P Chidambaram”, The court called it a “classic case of money laundering”, and that the “fact… prima facie reveal that Chidambaram is the kingpin, i.e., the key conspirator in the case”, writes Express.
The Times of India says “storm clouds over” the former finance minister deepened Tuesday “as he rushed to the Supreme Court seeking anticipatory bail….”. It adds that a CBI team “reached the former FM’s Jor Bagh residence but could not find him”.
Kamal Nath: It was a bad day for the Congress. Also making news Wednesday is a “dramatic turn of events” in which the Enforcement Directorate arrested Delhi-based businessman Ratul Puri, nephew of Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath, “for an alleged bank fraud when he appeared before the anti-money laundering agency in connection with alleged complicity in the AgustaWestland bribery case”, writes TOI.
Aadhaar linked to social media: In The Hindu’s choice of lead story, the Supreme Court Tuesday “stressed the need to find a balance between the right to online privacy and the right of the State to detect people who use the web to spread panic and commit crimes”.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal argued that “the linking of social media profiles with Aadhaar is needed to check fake news, defamatory articles, pornographic materials and anti-national and terror contents in the online media”, reports The Hindu.
NRC appeal: The Home Ministry Tuesday said, “People of Assam excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) can now appeal within 120 days instead of the previous 60 days”, mentions HT. However, the final list of citizens will have to be published before 31 August as per top court orders.
HT adds that the “4.1 million people” who don’t qualify as Indian citizens will have the option to approach the Foreigners Tribunal. This news finds no mention in TOI and Express.
Also, all newspapers note, in Express’s words that Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft “moved into lunar orbit on Tuesday in preparation for landing on September 7”.
Advertisements: Amid the slump in auto industry, Mahindra & Mahindra and Hyundai promote their vehicles on the front pages of Express and TOI, respectively.
The Indian Express: In “Spending Limits”, Express discusses whether an expenditure council can affect Centre-state relations. On one hand, it could ensure financial coordination between the Centre and states and help them “rationalise and prioritise” spending, given that the current limits have been affected by fiscal consolidation. However, this could threaten India’s federal structure. After the shift to GST overstepped much of the states’ taxation powers, there are fears an expenditure council will allow the Centre to “grab even more space” at their expense. Reviving the Inter-State council to discuss subjects of common interest between the Centre and states would be a better alternative, suggests Express.
The Times of India: When it comes to Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC), “a veritable can of worms has been opened”, writes TOI in “NRC Full Stop”. After the Supreme Court rejected pleas to re-verify NRC data, the final publication of the list is scheduled for 31 August. However, the re-verification demand continues for fears that illegal migrants have made the list while genuine citizens have been left out. TOI says this is highly probably given “poor documentation culture” and the NRC exercise which is known to “conflate” Bengali with Bangladeshi. BJP “muddied the waters further” by proposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, meant to provide citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh, as it contradicted the Assam Accord (1971).
‘Desperately seeking P. Chidambaram’ — that could have been Tuesday’s headline as news channels accompanied the Enforcement Directorate and CBI, on their search for the former finance minister, following the Delhi High Court’s cancellation of his bail in the INX Media case.
“Bail-bail bandobast over,” declared News X. “Will he be arrested tonight?” asked NDTV India, “CBI comes away empty handed,” replied Aaj Tak after they found him absent from his Delhi residence. It could be a “long night for P Chidambaram”, observed Times Now anchor Rahul Shivshankar with a glint in his eye. “Panic strikes Congress to save Chidambaram,” claimed banner Republic TV headlines.
In the event, Kashmir finally got a respite, especially from English news channels.
India Today: Anchor Rajdeep Sardesai wondered at CBI’s inability to locate Chidambaram and asked if he shouldn’t face the law “like any ordinary Indian?”
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave explained, “The Supreme Court says a person seeking anticipatory bail is still a free man, entitled to the presumption of innocence.”
Rahul Srivastava, India Today, observed with a smile, that CBI was having some “fun” at Chidambaram’s expense.
Times Now: After CBI and ED failed to locate Chidambaram, anchor Padmaja Joshi asked on “The Newshour”, “Is he absconding?”
Political analyst Ashutosh wondered what “emergency and urgency” demanded his immediate arrest? “The court took seven months to announce the matter…”
“They (investigative agencies) have been wanting to arrest him for the last 18 months but have been unable to do so,” asserted advocate Ishkaran Singh Bhandari. “They were prevented by the court from arresting him because of interim orders.”
Joshi asked a pertinent question: “If you’re innocent, why hide?”
Tehseen Poonawalla, political analyst, explained: “He is not absconding. The law of the land… is simply this, you can arrest someone for three things: tampering with evidence, obstructing the filing of a chargesheet, or evading the charges, none of which he has done.”
Hindi news channels were divided between continuing coverage of the floods (ABP News, News 18) Chidambaram (NDTV India, Aaj Tak) and Pakistan occupied Kashmir — Zee News continued its campaign for India to acquire PoK.
India TV went after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and News 24 broadcast Pakistani news channels where calls for Kashmiris to rise in insurrection, were made.
Zee News: With the hashtag #AbMissionPoK, anchor Aman Arora discussed PoK.
BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia said, “Pakistan is anxious about India’s next steps. Surgical strike in Uri, Balakot air strike and then the abrogation of Article 370 is a tight slap on the face of Pakistan.”
Political analyst Iftikhar Misgar commented, “India could not handle Kashmir for 70 years but is still eyeing PoK. If ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ is true then I challenge you to do it.”
Columnist Tarek Fateh hotly disagreed with Misgar: “Why don’t the Kashmiri Pandits have a problem with the integration of India the way you Kashmiri Muslims have?”
Aaj Tak: On “Dangal”, anchor Rohit Sardana debated former Pakistan envoy to India Abdul Basit’s call for an armed uprising in Kashmir.
Basit said India should “abide by the international laws in the case of Kashmir dispute”.
“How about following international laws in Gilgit, Baltistan and Balochistan as well?” shot back Sushil Pandit, political activist.
“Balochistan is Pakistan’s sovereign state, this is like comparing apples and oranges,” retorted Pakistani political analyst Qamar Cheema.