Maharashtra’s political drama continued with the imposition of President’s rule. It’s the lead in newspapers with several accompanying reports that highlight the possible combinations of Shiv Sena, NCP, Congress and BJP, as they attempt to form a government.
The other story making news is Delhi’s alarming pollution levels in The Times of India and Hindustan Times with the AQI levels set to touch the ‘emergency’ level again.
Delhi pollution: “A noxious haze” hung over Delhi Tuesday as “air quality plunged into ‘severe’ zone again,” writes TOI. The pollution could get worse due to farm fires and unfavourable weather conditions, it adds.
HT pulls no punches: in one report, it says the Central Pollution Control Board did not heed the warning of scientists from IIT in the first week of October that “stubble burning would push the air quality in Delhi to hazardous levels between November 1 and 25”. In an accompanying report, it writes that “Air pollution is the second biggest risk factor for child deaths from pneumonia in India — killing an estimated 126,535 children under five in 2017”.
Maharashtra : HT headline says, “President’s Rule twist to Maha post-poll potboiler”. It writes, “Governor BS Koshiyari told the Centre that no party was in a position to form the government… triggering criticism from the Opposition”. TOI calls the move a “not-so-unexpected” development and adds that BJP will try to assemble 145 MLAs to ensure that the party’s government is formed in the state.
The Hindu reports that Shiv Sena “moved a petition in the Supreme Court challenging” the Governor’s decision to deny its request for three days to prove its majority”. The Indian Express highlights the terms of a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress alliance.
“Congress and NCP have said the Sena must agree and sign off on a common minimum programme,” it writes. NCP chief Sharad Pawar rejected the possibility of Congress backing a Sena-NCP government from outside, “He wants all three parties in the government,” it added.
Exclusive: Express on Credit growth slows: Bad news on the economy doesn’t seem to be abating. In an exclusive, Express reports that “growth in bank credit to industries slowed to 2.7 per cent in September — the lowest in the last 12 months”. The report adds that “gross bank credit, too, expanded by just 8.2 per cent in September — the lowest in 22 months”.
Vodafone crisis in India: “Vodafone-Idea, India’s second largest telecom company, may be headed for liquidation unless the government eases off on demands for mobile spectrum fees,” reports TOI. The move comes after the Supreme Court asked the telecom company to pay Rs 92,000 crore in past dues.
TOI’s quotes Vodafone CEO Nick Read saying, “Financially, there’s been a heavy burden through unsupportive regulation, excessive taxes and on top of that we got the negative Supreme Court decision.”
The Times of India: TOI writes about the “dramatic turn” of events in Maharashtra with President’s Rule being imposed Tuesday. After its alliance with the BJP failed, Shiv Sena was given 24 hours to put together an alliance with Congress-NCP and extra time was denied- same with NCP. The governor “appears to have convinced himself” that a stable government formation was not possible, remarks TOI.
TOI argues that a stable coalition between Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress requires “some time to hammer together a power-sharing formula”. Such a coalition could be called “unstable” but one dominant party in power does not necessarily always deliver “superior results”, as India’s “vast, complex and diverse polity” could benefit from power-sharing arrangements like that of Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP, writes TOI.
The Hindu: The newspaper differs from TOI. It says the Shiv Sena’s bid for Maharashtra’s chief ministerial seat initially seemed to be “brinkmanship to extract a hard bargain” from the BJP but now it seems like it has “tripped over greed”, writes Hindu. As its alliance failed with the BJP, Sena “miscalculated the alternative scenario” of partnering Congress and NCP. The idea of a Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP alliance is “toxic”, comments Hindu.
Post-poll coalitions may be a legitimate route to power but the situation in Maharashtra is “far from it”, feels Hindu. If Congress and NCP want BJP out of power for ideological reasons, handing over power to “a more virulent strain of Hindutva” would be completely “disingenuous”. The alliance would not only be “indefensible” ideologically, but “suicidal tactically” and unstable. The “best course” would be fresh elections, advises Hindu.
While the Maharashtra stalemate gripped prime time debates, anchors reacted wildly to the news. Aaj Tak’s Rohit Sardana declared “Shah ki shah, Maharashtra mein maat” (Checkmate for Amit Shah in Maharashtra); Navika Kumar on Times Now, came out in support of the BJP–, “Did you vote for the mahamilwat?” referring to the NCP, Congress, and Sena.
Anand Narasimhan of News18 India said the Shiv Sena “are getting 18 portfolios when they don’t even deserve 8”. Rajdeep Sardesai on India Today wondered if NCP’s Sharad Pawar was “playing double games”.
NDTV India: Anchor Ravish Kumar discussed the ongoing student protests in JNU over fee hike. He connected these protests to the economic slowdown. “In a situation where there are no jobs, people are not getting salary, increasing the university fee is certainly not the right choice.”
He criticised JNU’s curfew and library timings — “What could happen if a student reads after 11 pm in the library? Why do people have any objection to this?” he asked. “Even students of IIT-Bombay and IIT-BHU have been protesting against the increased fee, it is only JNU which is highlighted,” he said.
Zee News: Anchor Sudhir Chaudhary was concerned that Maharashtra hasn’t got a government yet and tried to analyse the ongoing political crisis on his show “DNA”.
Calling the Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP ‘Parivar parties’ (dynastic parties), Chaudhary despaired that the people of Maharashtra had been “left behind in this race of power”.
“It is probably the first time the winning alliance has not been able to form the government despite having a majority,” he observed.
NDTV 24x7: The Maharashtra stalemate left anchor Nidhi Razdan puzzled on “Left, Right and Centre”.
“If you want to get confused like the rest of us, please hear what the BJP is saying. They say they’re very much in the race,” she declared.
Supreme Court lawyer Avi Singh said, “The decision is no longer just in the Governor’s hands because now President’s rule has been imposed… The questions which can be asked though are — was the decision to impose President’s rule sufficient and was it the last resort?”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Gupta said, “We are trying to learn from other alliances who formed the government and see what went wrong to ensure that we do not make the same mistakes. Therefore we are reviewing things and that will take some time.”
Senior journalist Neerja Choudhary retorted, “You will keep reviewing and the other side will form the government.”
Republic TV: Anchor Arnab Goswami’s debate went with the title #SenaStopCrying as he expressed shock over Congress leader Kapil Sibal appearing as the Shiv Sena’s lawyer, as the party moved the Supreme Court.
When a panelist tried to chip in on the issue, Goswami responded, “I don’t want to waste time on nonentities like Kapil Sibal.”
Lawyer Swapnil Kothari said, “People got time since 20 days, the Governor has been equal and absolutely right (sic).”
CPM leader Fuad Halim said, “Governor himself allotted time till 8:30 to NCP, but he defeats his own time-scale. That is a grey area.”