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Soren makes news, Amit Shah India TV’s 2019 `special’ person, Bharat Mata ki Jai on Zee

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Most mainstream newspapers Monday lead with the swearing-in ceremony of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren as the chief minister of Jharkhand.

The police and government crackdown on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protesters in Uttar Pradesh and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s `Mann ki Baat’ also hit page 1 headlines.

The Hindu and Hindustan Times prominently carry photographs of actor Amitabh Bachchan receiving the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, India’s highest honour for cinema, for 2018.

Heman Soren: Newspapers note the show of strength by opposition leaders at the swearing-in ceremony. HT says a host of opposition leaders including “Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief MK Stalin and his party colleague Kanimozhi, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary D Raja, Tejashwi Yadav of the RJD, Aam Aadmi Party’s Sanjay Singh, former Janata Dal (United) leader Sharad Yadav and Hindustan Awam Morcha’s Jitan Ram Manjhi” attended the event. West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Bhagel were also there.

Times of India points out that on his first day as CM, “Soren withdrew cases against thousands who had participated in the Pathalgarhi movement and protested against the amendment bill to the Santhal Pargana Tenacy and Chotanagpur Tenacy Act”.

UP anti-CAA protests: In a special report, Express writes that a “57-year-old Ayurveda doctor who runs a clinic, a 56-year-old social activist… are among 59 persons issued notices by UP government for payment of Rs 15.35 lakh in total to compensate for damage to property caused during anti-CAA protests in Sambhal district on December 19”.

Express also carries a ground report on the situation in the state, writing that “invoking the Constitution and waving the Tricolour to widen the base of the CAA-NRC protests don’t seem to be working in large parts of Uttar Pradesh”. The report adds that “in a state largely divided on caste lines, support for the protests is split more on the lines of religion than politics”.

“Six persons died of gunshot wounds during CAA protests” in Firozabad and the kin of those killed are awaiting justice, writes Hindu in a ground report.

Mann ki Baat: TOI writes the PM “lauded youth for appreciating the system and ‘courageously’ questioning it when it does not respond properly even as he emphasised that young people did not favour anarchy of any sort” during his radio broadcast Mann Ki Baat Sunday. HT notes that the remarks “came days after Modi said those who committed violence in protests against Citizenship Amendment Act… must introspect”.

Others: TOI’s lead story is on Meerut SP (city) Akhilesh Narayan Singh, who allegedly said ‘go to Pakistan’ to anti-CAA protesters. It notes that “Union minorities affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi appears to have broken ranks with other senior BJP functionaries on the issue, saying the cop’s remarks were ‘unacceptable’”.

Hindu reports that Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad clarified that “while there is a ‘possibility’ that the National Register of Citizens ‘may take place’, it will only be through a due legal process, with rules for it being defined ‘through adequate consultation’”.


The Indian Express: The setting up of a new standing committee on India’s economic statistics shows that the Modi government acknowledges there is a credibility problem with official data and it has to be addressed, writes Express in `Problem with figures’. There is a need for a correct official data system particularly when the National Sample Survey Office survey showed household consumer expenditure to have fallen in 2017-18, a year when listed companies posted decent sales growth. It suggests that the government also “needs to come clean on its fiscal accounts”. Quoting former chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian, Express writes the absence of reliable data makes formulation of policy responses difficult.

Hindustan Times: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s remarks asking banks to not be afraid of three Cs — the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), are significant, writes HT in` The message to banks’. The banks were stuck with bad loans over the past decade and the Modi government belatedly recognised the problem. However, the banks which were already low on capital, had to “play safe by doing little and avoiding risk retribution”. HT suggests the banks should positively respond to the FM’s message. It adds that the economy needs other immediate measures as well. According to HT, Sitharaman is “sending out the right messages” which now need to be “translated into policy”.

Prime time

Prime Time news Sunday stayed on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Republic TV in “#NRCNarcoTest” brought up allegations against the two which Arnab Goswami refuted with `facts’.

NDTV 24×7 debated if National Population Register is the first step towards NRC. Meanwhile, an India TV poll found Home Minister Amit Shah “vishesh vyakti” (special person) for 2019.

Times Now: The channel debated the actions of Meerut Police after the force allegedly said “Go to Pakistan” to a group of people, and the continued anti-CAA agitations.

BJP spokesperson R.P. Singh said, “Now naturally if someone says Pakistan Zindabad, I will say go to Pakistan.”

Political analyst Dushyant Nagar said, “India’s democracy will function according to India. According to Gandhi and Ambedkdar, and the Constitution. You keep linking everything to Pakistan.”

Aaj Tak: Anchor Rohit Sardana asked if the definition of tolerance was subjective after historian Irfan Habib objected to Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan’s speech supporting CAA.

Former governor A.R. Kohli defended the governor’s freedom of expression and said the “intellectuals of this country are happy as long as their voices are heard, but get furious when others try to voice their opinions”.

Former AAP member and journalist Ashutosh condemned CAA, but said that mistaking Habib for a “Congress historian” was wrong. “He was a staunch opposer of Emergency in 1975 and was also banned by the Congress government at that time (sic)” he said.

Historian Sanjay Singh questioned the governor’s act of speaking in favour of the CAA: “A governor is a neutral institution, if she/he is doing advocacy for the ruling party, then it is worrisome.”

Zee News: The channel discussed Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s statement that whoever wants to live in India, has to chant “Bharat Mata ki Jai”. Anchor Aditi Tyagi asked, “Bharat Mata Ki Jai se kisko bhay (who’s afraid of chanting `Bharat Mata Ki Jai?’)”

BJP’s Anila Singh had “logic” to offer: “People who don’t chant `Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, it shows they don’t respect their own mothers as well.”

Islamic scholar Atiqur Rahman said it is perfectly okay to chant the slogan, but mentioned atrocities and statements made by UP police during anti-CAA protests. “Is it right to ask our own Indian Muslim brothers and sisters to leave this country and go to Pakistan just because they are Muslims?”

Political analyst Chetan Singh found the debate futile, “We have larger issues to deal with… Nobody is talking about the issues on the ground.”

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