Rajat Sharma
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Mainstream newspapers go with different leads for their front pages Tuesday. Hindustan Times covers the first day of the Parliament’s winter session in “J&K, economy, pollution set Parliament flashpoint”.

The Hindu, too, focuses on Parliament but in the context of the detention of National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah — “Uproar in LS over Farooq’s detention”.

The Times of India carries an exclusive story on Indian student’s population in the United States — “Desi student popn in US, crosses 2 lakh, but fewer are going there”

And, The Indian Express focuses on Maharashtra, “Deal in works: Uddhav CM for 5 yrs, deputies from Cong, NCP”.

The clash between Delhi police and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students while they were protesting the fee hike Monday is the other major news of the day.

JNU protests: “Hundreds of JNU students took to the streets on Monday for a ‘Long march to Parliament’ in protest against hostel fee hike”, reports TOI. Hindu, oddly, puts `march’ within single quotes in its headline — “JNU students injured in face-off with police during ‘march’”. The protesters broke through multiple barricades by the Delhi Police which had created a “two-tier security cordon outside the university’s gate”, it adds.

Express’ headline reads, “No crackdown, say police, JNU students’ injuries say otherwise”, and is accompanied by a photograph of policemen charging at students with a lathi in hand. The report in Express leads with the injuries, “A visually challenged student said he was trampled on, an ex-student received five stitches on his head, a teacher said he was kicked and hit with lathis despite identifying himself”.

Winter session of Parliament: HT reports that the session began on a “stormy note” with the “Opposition seeking to corner the treasury benches on a raft of issues ranging from Kashmir to the state of the economy, as the government held out assurances that it was open to discussing all issues”. Hindu writes that “a united Opposition… attacked” the Modi government over Abdullah’s detention and called it “illegal”. In an accompanying report, Hindu adds that PM Modi praised NCP and BJD members because they “follow the discipline of not rushing to the well”.

Maharashtra: Express exclusively reports that “an understanding has tentatively been reached for a three-party coalition to take charge of the state early next month with Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray at the helm”  while other newspapers suggest everything is up in the air. TOI calls it “cautious progress” while HT and Hindu note that NCP chief Sharad Pawar sidestepped any queries about the alliance.

Male contraceptives: In what could be a major breakthrough in reproductive health, HT reports that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) “has successfully completed clinical trials of the world’s first injectable male contraceptive”. The drug has been sent to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) for approval.

Opinion

Hindustan Times: HT points out that the government’s rejection of the Household Consumer Expenditure Survey (CES) 2017-18 because of “data quality issues” was announced around the same time that the Business Standard leaked parts of the report. The leak had revealed that the real average consumption had fallen between 2011-12 and 2017-18. 2017-18 was not a “normal year” for the Indian economy as demonetisation and the Goods and Services Tax (GST) created many economic “disruptions”, explains HT. The government says a new CES will be conducted in 2020-21, which means policymakers will not have access to consumption data — which is crucial to devising policing to address the slowdown — for more than a decade. The government is “shooting the messenger” and making policymaking more difficult, declares HT.

The Hindu: The Supreme Court’s Essar Steel bankruptcy case ruling is a “landmark” verdict in India’s “short history” of insolvency and bankruptcy resolution that sets an important precedent for quick resolution. The judgment cleared the way for the sale of Essar Steel to ArcelorMittal, but it also clarified important aspects of insolvency resolution that had been interpreted in different ways by the National Company Law Tribunal and National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The apex court has “rightly” upheld the primacy of financial creditors over operational creditors in the repayment process, writes Hindu. Also, the SC has showed NCLAT “its place”, declaring the Committee of Creditors as “supreme” in deciding commercial issues. These clarifications will be instrumental in quickening big and small cases in the country, concludes Hindu.

Prime Time

Times Now‘s Padmaja Joshi hit the streets of Delhi to find out “what does JNU really want?” as she interacted with students who were protesting outside Rajiv Bhawan.

India Today‘s Gaurav Sawant debated the “MahaMess” after NCP chief Sharad Pawar gave mixed signals on forming a government with Shiv Sena. “The Maharashtra potboiler continued to keep everybody on the edge,” remarked Sawant.

ABP News and Aaj Tak also wondered about the NCP chief’s continuing ambivalence after his meeting with Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi.

NDTV 24×7: On “Reality Check”, anchor Sreenivasan Jain debated journalist Nitin Sethi’s breaking story in Huffington Post on electoral bonds and asked if the Modi government intentionally ignored the RBI’s warnings on the issue.

Sethi said, “On a matter so important just a short email is sent to RBI on Saturday afternoon. Just a quick line saying we are going to amend one provision in your Act… This is Saturday afternoon when most central governments should be sleeping… Yet RBI is alerted and responds very quickly by Monday saying you should not do this.”

Former chief consultant of finance ministry Ashok Desai said, “No one was consulted… This is now how things are done…There was a strategy behind it as they had already lined up the money for the bonds. It (the money) is going to the BJP and this was only a way of legalising it.”

To which Sreenivasan Jain said, “That is a very serious allegation you are making.”

Republic TV: Anchor Arnab Goswami’s debate was on #PawarSnubsSena. Someone began speaking about Hindutva and Goswami tersely snubbed him, “Don’t make this a Hindutva debate”.

Turning to the Maharashtra power game, Goswami dramatically laughed and said, “Today, Sharad Pawar told the Shiv Sena to get lost”.

BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma said, “The way Sharad Pawar dissed the Shiv Sena today, it has become such a spectacle.”

AIMIM’s Waris Pathan wondered why President’s Rule was imposed on the state so quickly.

Zee News: Anchor Aman Arora pleaded with everyone, #JNUBachao, and then listed five things that had to go — ‘the tukde-tukde gang’, communist writers, Congress, other communist parties, communist students and NGOs that run on foreign funding.

BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia brought up the issue of vandalism of Swami Vivekananda’s statue on the campus last week: “They are the people who destroy Swami ji’s statue and celebrate when our soldiers are martyred in Dantewada.”

Political analyst Vikas Gupta was sardonic: how far will the increase in the university fee by 300 per cent ease the economic slowdown, he asked.

Communist Party of India’s leader Suneet Chopra supported JNU students, and asked who created the impasse in the first place, implying it was the JNU authorities.

India TV: Rajat Sharma commented on the day’s important news on “Aaj ki Baat”.

As Parliament’s winter session began with condolences to deceased leaders including BJP’s Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Ram Jethmalani, Sharma turned nostalgic: “I remember Arun Jaitley almost everyday… nobody can replace him.”

On JNU, Sharma said that at this juncture, the Vice-Chancellor merely sending messages via social media instead of meeting and resolving students’ concerns was unacceptable. “However, students shouldn’t have used violence to put forth their demands,” he added.

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