For the second day in a row, newspapers opt for different leads. Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s comments about strengthening rape laws is featured prominently, while the filing of a review plea in the Ayodhya case also finds space.
The news report that catches the eye, however, is the item on Sharad Pawar: “PM told me let us work together but I refused: Pawar on Nov 20 meet”, writes The Indian Express in a bold-lettered headline. It adds that according to the NCP chief, in an interview with ABP Majha, there was on offer on the table by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP to make his daughter Supriya Sule a minister at the Centre if his party partnered BJP in Maharashtra. The Times of India also carries the story, emphasising in red that Pawar “rejected” the PM’s offer. Hindustan Times highlights the portion of the interview where Pawar claims his nephew Ajit said he had made a mistake aligning with BJP (“Ajit said he made a mistake: Pawar”).
Rajya Sabha on Hyderabad rape: “Open to making rape law stricter, govt tells House”, HT writes in its headline for the report on Monday’s Rajya Sabha debate about the Hyderabad rape case. TOI highlights “MPs call for lynchings, castrations”, adding in its sub-head that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is “ready for talks on tough provisions”. The Hindu focuses on Singh’s statements. In a related report, “A brutal crime — tangled up in class, gender conflicts”, HT goes compares last week’s Hyderabad case to the landmark 2012 Delhi gang rape case.
Ayodhya review plea: Express and Hindu go with straightforward headlines on “Ayodhya review plea filed, says court has rewarded illegalities” (Express). TOI adds more emotion in its headline: “Peace without justice is not possible: Jamiat’s Ayodhya review plea”. HT adds details about the plea in “First Ayodhya review plea asks for masjid to be rebuilt”, adding that the “first challenge” to the verdict “opens a fresh chapter in 136 year old dispute”.
SC/ST creamy layer review: The Hindu leads with a report about the Modi government asking the Supreme Court for a review of the creamy layer concept for Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes while providing them reservations. Express’s second lead report says the request comes “more than a year” after the court had applied the principle to SC/STs for government jobs.
NRC: “Will expel intruders by 2024, says Shah”, reads HT headline about Union Minister Amit Shah’s deadline for an all India National Register of Citizens. TOI’s headline is more dramatic and hints at the BJP’s political agenda — “All India NRC by 2024, all illegals will be expelled before polls: Shah”.
TOI lightens up a tense news round up with the now-viral photograph of Sweden’s King and his wife arriving at New Delhi’s airport carrying their own bags after flying in an Air India flight. “Maharaja flies king, who’s down to earth in the air”, reads the jovial headline, praising the royal couple for traveling like “normal passengers”.
The Indian Express: After the Imran Khan government in Pakistan extended the tenure of chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa whose term ended on 28 November, the Supreme Court ruled against this and reduced the extension to six months. It also ordered the Khan government to introduce constitutional provisions to extend Bajwa’s tenure. This is not the first time that the COAS’s tenure has been extended. In 2001, General Pervez Musharraf had granted himself an indefinite extension. Extensions in the Army impacts the hierarchy within the institution and holds up promotions.
“Imran Khan sees no risk from Bajwa,” writes Express. What is important to note is the dissatisfaction with the government not just within the Army but also among politicians who carried out a “long march” protesting against the government’s silenced on Kashmir and jubilance over Kartarpur. If Bajwa goes, then Khan could be the next.
The Hindu: Following the visit of the new Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to India last week, it is clear that both countries are keen to make good bilateral ties a priority. This was exemplified by India’s $50 million aid and an additional $400 development aid to Sri Lanka as well as the invitation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Gotabaya as his first state guest. However, this will be tested by how Gotabaya regulates investment from China, infrastructure projects in Trincomalee and his attitude towards the less developed areas of the north and east of Sri Lanka where most minorities did not vote for him. India is also concerned with the rehabilitation of Tamils who suffered devastating losses because of the civil war. The peace and confidence building process is what India will be closely monitoring.
Most channels, through the day and into prime time debates concluded that “This is no country for women” (CNN News18) after details of the shocking rape and murder of a young woman in Hyderabad. They played and replayed Rajya Sabha MP Jaya Bachchan’s comment that the rapists should be lynched in public.
Channels like ABP News, Aaj Tak, Times Now and CNN News18 highlighted how the Nirbhaya fund had been barely utilised by states.
“Shameful!” cried out Navika Kumar (Times Now); “Enough is enough,” declared Arnab Goswami (Republic TV).
In other news, Goswami declared “#DontSpareUrbanNaxals” in the Bhima Koregaon case after the NCP reportedly asked Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray to withdraw all the cases related to the 2018 incident. And Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today wondered if industrialist Rahul Bajaj’s comments at the Economic Times Awards were an accurate reflection of business sentiment.
Rohit Sardana on sister channel Aaj Tak asked, “Are Bajaj’s comments not good for national interest?”
Times Now: On “#BajajParBawaal”, anchor Padmaja Joshi asked, “Is BJP intolerant to dissent?” Joshi said, “Hours may have passed since (Bajaj spoke), but the ball has been set rolling. And that ball simply has stopped yet.”
BJP’s R.P. Singh said, “Rahul Bajaj should at least have some grounds to criticise the government.”
Political analyst Sumanth Ram asked why connections between the Bajaj family and the Nehrus had been brought up. “I thought Mr. Amit Shah answered his question very well… the matter should’ve just ended there,” he said.
CNN News18: Anchor Marya Shakil led the debate on whether “it was time to police the men and free the women”.
Kiran Bedi, Lt. Governor of Puducherry and former IPS officer, offered some advice: “We need a six P formula where the police, parents, press, prosecutor, public and principal work in tandem. This group can be called Nirbhaya and they should meet regularly to access women’s safety.”
Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee remarked, “This (incident) shows that nothing has changed since the Nirbhaya case. The crux of the matter to tackle is much deeper.”
India TV: “Don’t pity the devil, hang him till death,” demanded anchor Saurav Sharma on “Kurukshetra“.
Congress’s Ranjeet Ranjan said it was unfortunate how justice has not been served even after seven years. “The convicts are still alive, Nirbhaya’s family is still fighting for justice.”
BJP MP Roopa Ganguly believed that a political will is required in such cases, “All the politicians must unite and unanimously decide upon making laws to deal with such cases.”
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi demanded social and political equity: “19 per cent candidates in Parliament have rape or harassment charges on them. If women are not on the power table, we will keep witnessing such situations and crimes.”
NDTV India: On “Prime Time”, anchor Ravish Kumar appreciated Home Minister Amit Shah response to Rahul Bajaj’s comments, but said his response has raised many questions. For instance, Shah said lynchings have reduced in India.
“National Crime Record Bureau did not publish the data of lynchings… But according to a report, 113 people have been killed in mob-lynchings since 2015,” claimed the anchor.