More alarm bells on the economy dominate the front pages Tuesday — “Food prices drive retail inflation to 5.5-year high” (Times of India) to 7.35 per cent in December 2019, while food inflation shot up to 14.12 per cent. The story is also the lead in The Indian Express and Hindustan Times.
A newsy Monday is reflected on the front pages: a Congress-led opposition meeting — which the Shiv Sena, TMC and four others chose to skip — slammed the BJP government on the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the sinking economy. It’s a lead in Express and HT.
A nine-judge bench led by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde stated that the objective of the Supreme Court was not only to review the Sabarimala case, but the “larger issue” of faith vs. freedom – that is The Hindu lead.
TOI’s other lead is JNU . It reports that the government “came out in support” of JNU V-C M. Jagadesh Kumar with Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal “lauding the VC’s ‘good work’”.
And finally, HT, in its lead story on the flap, reports that Jamia Millia Islamia has cancelled exams while JNU professors cancelled all classes.
5-year high inflation: HT writes, “Inflation at 5-year high, vegetables 60% dearer”. It adds that this increase is due to high vegetable prices and phone tariffs. It also reports that this will pose “a political and economic challenge to the Narendra Modi government.” TOI reports, “Retail inflation highest since July ’14, driven by food prices”. It says that this is the “first time since July 2016, the inflation figure shot past the 6% upper band of the central bank’s comfort zone.”
Express focuses on this angle in the headline, “Retail inflation rises on food prices, moves past RBI comfort level. An accompanying report states that the big worry is that this “spike comes in wake of global increase in food prices”. Meanwhile, in Hindu, the story is accompanied with a graph indicating this slump.
Opposition against CAA: Express writes, “All CMs opposed to NRC must stop NPR too: 20 Oppn parties”. An accompanying report states that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who seems to be straddling both sides of the political spectrum, said, “NRC across country unnecessary, there’s no justification… can discuss CAA”. TOI adds that the Opposition asked that, “Republic Day should be observed across the country by reading the Constitution to challenge the government’s effort to ‘undermine’ India’s foundational values.” HT is more aggressive, “Oppn slams govt on CAA, economy; 6 parties absent” while Hindu remains bland as usual, “Oppn appeals to non BJP CMs to suspend NPR enumeration”.
SC on Sabarimala: Hindu offers some “points to ponder” where it raises pertinent questions about freedom of religion. TOI writes, “SC to examine faith vs women’s rights issue, not just Sabari entry”, adding that the top court will “lay down guidelines for judicial scrutiny of petitions raising issues relating to clash of faith with fundamental rights.” HT doesn’t carry the story on page 1.
Others: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s statement on CAA makes page 1 in Express and TOI but in different ways: TOI features the Microsoft release of Nadella’s statement. Express leads with his original remarks to news portal Buzzfeed that he was, “Sad, would love to see a Bangla immigrant head Infy”.
In speculative report, HT suggests a possible Trump visit is in the offing: “India, US in talks to finalise dates for Trump’s state visit”. The report states that the source is “a person familiar with the planning of the tour” but also notes that the White House declined to comment on the matter.
Hindustan Times: In “Decoding the spike in prices”, HT writes that the Reserve Bank of India should discuss the hike in retail inflation from 5.54 per cent in November to 7.35 per cent in December.
It writes that the government should realise that retail inflation numbers are at its highest since July 2014. Furthermore, the RBI will be under pressure to reduce rates to boost faltering growth even though it refused to do so in the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting. HT, however, argues that the “crisis will pass only once the supply shocks in onion, garlic, tomato and pulses ease”. It adds that “it would be difficult to explain the increased inflation to people who are concerned with the headlines” if the “headline inflation numbers are not good”.
Prime time debates Tuesday steered clear of the arrest of senior police officer Davinder Singh in Jammu and Kashmir. Singh was apprehended with two militants from the Hizbul Mujahideen in Kulgam Saturday.
Instead, NDTV 24×7 anchor Nidhi Razdan discussed Shaheen Bagh protests – she asked BJP leader L. Kumaramangalam, whether the women needed to be explained the BJP’s point of view. India Today anchor Preeti Choudhary asked Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha if students are a better opposition than the Congress today. The Times Now debate with anchor Padmaja Joshi was consumed by the political row over the proposed installation of a 114 ft granite statue of Jesus Christ near Bangalore.
Aaj Tak called Jamia Millia a “system without a leash” after student protests outside the campus. The students were angry that no action had been taken against the violent police action in December. ABP News also reported that the Vice Chancellor met with protesting students
Republic TV: In other more gruelling debates, anchor Arnab Goswami threatened to “expose” the anti-India agenda of the Congress and the Vadra family. With his head held high, that “political interest must be subservient to national interest” and accused the Congress of using Kashmir and JNU protests as breeding grounds of anti-India sentiment on Indian soil.
BJP spokesperson, Sambit Patra accused the Congress and the Left of defaming India internationally and sarcastically said that for Kerala, which has the Left in power, North Korea is more important and that it has a “Gaza strip”.
He added that there were no nationalists in the Congress party.
On this, writer and activist Saria Shah Halim responded by changing the topic and asked Patra to name three freedom fighters from the RSS.
CNN News-18: Anchor Marya Shakil wondered why Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has not come out in support of the students or the women of Shaheen Bagh just 30 days before the Delhi assembly elections.
Shakil questioned Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on whether Kejriwal is “reading the mood of the so-called silent majority”.
Tharoor dramatically replied that the Delhi CM wants power without responsibility, one which “we all know has been the prerogative of eunuchs for ages”. He subsequently apologised for this remark on Twitter after much criticism.
Aaj Tak: In a ‘Special Report’ segment, anchor Anjana Om Kashyap said that there is not only chaos and commotion outside Jamia, but also JNU, Jadavpur, AMU and other prominent universities. Flashing a blurry image of a letter on screen, she claimed that 208 Vice-Chancellors from different universities across the country have written to the Prime Minister saying that all instances of violence have been instigated by Left groups, and have pleaded with him to pacify the situation.
Zee News: On his primetime show ‘DNA’, anchor Sudhir Chaudhary delivered a lengthy monologue criticising the youth protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens across the country. He noted that the students took lakhs worth of subsidies from the government, and yet resorted to politics. He added that they take photographs with celebrities, participate in protests and agitations, shout slogans and even shut down universities. With a straight face, he said such youth are not interested in getting jobs, but only joining politics, delivering speeches and appearing on television.