New Delhi: Droupadi Murmu is not only the second woman to make it to Rashtrapati Bhawan, but also the first tribal to do so — an achievement that the Urdu media celebrated even as its editorials discussed the larger political implications of the defeat of the opposition’s nominee Yashwant Sinha.
Other news that kept Urdu papers busy through the week included the fate of AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair, and the monsoon session of Parliament.
ThePrint brings you a roundup of the news and opinion pieces that made headlines in Urdu newspapers this week.
Murmu’s win & failed opposition unity
Murmu’s election as the country’s 15th President made it to all the front pages Friday, with Roznama Rashtriya Sahara highlighting that she won by a record margin.
Inquilab’s lead headline emphasised the fact that she is the first tribal woman to be elected to the post.
On 18 July, Sahara had announced on its front page that votes were to be cast for the election of the next President, alongside smiling photos of the two contenders. The next day, it noted on its front page that polling percentage had touched 99 per cent in the presidential poll.
On 19 July, the Inquilab’s lead story about the presidential polls — alongside pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Congress President Sonia Gandhi casting their ballots — said there had been claims of cross-voting. It also mentioned that despite health issues, former PM Manmohan Singh and Samajwadi Party’s Mulayam Singh Yadav arrived in wheelchairs to cast their votes.
A 22 July editorial in Siasat said that Murmu’s victory pointed to another failed attempt at opposition unity and by pushing their candidate, the BJP had once again succeeded in outwitting its rivals.
The piece further said that with presidential elections now over, and NDA vice-presidential nominee Jagdeep Dhankhar’s victory on 6 August more or less a forgone conclusion, the need of the hour is an opposition leader who is acceptable to most constituents.
The failure of opposition parties to reach a consensus will once again give BJP the upper hand in the next parliamentary elections, it added.
A 20 July editorial titled ‘Murmu vs (Yashwant) Sinha’ in Inquilab said that the concept of a “conscience vote” is almost over now, with most lawmakers choosing to toe the party line in the elections despite there being no whip in presidential elections.
An Inquilab editorial that had appeared a day before the actual elections presciently said that even if some legislators did choose to move away from their party lines, chances are they would go in the direction in which the power balance is tilted. This is why, it said, chances of cross-voting in Sinha’s favour were slim.
According to an editorial published in Siasat on 18 July, while Yashwant Sinha had toured several states and was trying to woo BJP allies, the powers that be weren’t in his favour, and parties have political compulsions that would prevent them from going against the BJP.
On 17 July, Inquilab and Sahara carried the news of former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar being the NDA’s nominee for the post of vice-president on their front pages.
A day later, both carried the news of Margaret Alva being the opposition nominee, also on their front pages.
GST, rupee, and the economy
On 17 July, Sahara prominently published articles about Goods and Services Tax (GST) on its front page, emphasising that several essentials were going to get dearer.
According to recommendations made at the 47th GST Council meeting held in June, customers will have to pay 5 per cent GST on pre-packaged and labelled food items like flour, paneer and curd, as well as cereals like rice and wheat.
On 19 July, Siasat and Inquilab reported on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s tweet on GST, in which the leader said that the BJP has ruined one of the fastest growing economies of the world.
Inquilab also wrote that the imposition of 5 per cent GST imposed on canned or packaged products like fish, curd, cheese, honey, dry butter, dry soybeans, peas, wheat and other grains would not only increase people’s burden but also make their “food bitter”.
Sahara reported Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s and BJP leader Varun Gandhi’s criticism of the Modi government over inflation on its front page.
Kharge accused the central government of not listening to the opposition while Gandhi — a leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own party BJP — said the government, instead of providing reprieve to people, was causing more damage.
On 19 July, Sahara carried an editorial on GST and inflation. It said that India’s rising imports, falling rupee, and declining foreign reserves were causes of concern for the economy. Under such circumstances, while the government must take steps to increase its revenue, it must also be mindful of how its decisions would affect the public.
In its editorial on the falling value of the rupee against the dollar, Inquilab said one way to stablise the rupee is by increasing interest rates to help increase savings and reduce cash flow in the market.
The piece also suggested that prices of fuel must be kept down to help bring down inflation.
When more money has to be paid for goods, the editorial said, there’s more cash in circulation, which brings down the value of the rupee. The third way, it added, is to reduce imports and increase exports.
A 20 July Siasat editorial said that in the past, whenever the rupee depreciated, the BJP would stage violent protests and accuse the government of being weak and incompetent. The same BJP, it added, is now unable to explain why the rupee was falling, why the prices of fuel and gas were on the rise, and why foreign companies were leaving India.
The editorial further said that India’s foreign reserves were going down because foreign companies were pulling out of India. Additionally, the Indian government’s efforts to attract foreign investments in India were failing, it added.
Mohammed Zubair’s bail
The twists and turns in the cases against AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair were keenly followed by the Urdu press.
On 19 July, Sahara’s front page carried the news of Zubair — who was arrested over a tweet on 27 June — getting interim relief from the Supreme Court, which stayed proceedings on the eight FIRs that Uttar Pradesh Police had lodged against him.
In an inset, the paper also reported that suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma had filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking a stay on her arrest.
The news of Zubair finally leaving jail was on the front pages of both Sahara and Inquilab on 21 July, with Inquilab carrying a photo of a smiling Zubair standing alongside his lawyer Soutik Banerjee and flashing the victory sign. Both papers also highlighted the fact that the apex court had granted him bail in all the cases that had been registered in Uttar Pradesh.
On 16 July, the lead headline on the front page of Inquilab quoted a judge at Delhi’s Patiala House court as saying that democracy cannot sustain without free speech. The court was expressing its reservations about the use of certain legal provisions against Zubair.
The paper reported the court as having said that Zubair’s tweet had upset only one person, who the police are yet to identify.
Rocky start to monsoon session
The expected rocky start to the monsoon session of Parliament made the front pages on an almost daily basis. On 20 July, Inquilab’s lead story was on opposition parties’ protests over issues such as price rise. Opposition parties had held protests against surging inflation and the hike in GST in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament.
On 19 July, Sahara carried on its front page Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to parliamentarians that the maximum use of the Parliament’s time should be spent in the interests of the country.
On 18 July, Sahara quoted Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi as saying that the government was ready for a debate on any issue but needed the cooperation of the opposition.
In an inset, the paper also carried a small piece about the Congress being miffed about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s absence at an all-party meeting.
Lulu Mall controversy
On 17 July, Inquilab reported on the controversy over some people allegedly offering prayers at Lucknow’s newly-opened Lulu Mall. The report said that while “fanatical Hindu organisations” were now insisting on reading the Hanuman Chalisa there, police believed that the prayers were part of a larger “conspiracy”. The paper reported the Lucknow police commissioner as saying that the case was being investigated.
On 19 July, Inquilab’s reported on it’s front page the Lucknow Commissionerate’s clarification that news about the arrest of those offering namaz, which was circulating on social media, was false.
The report quoted the commissionerate as saying that three people were arrested for reading the Hanuman Chalisa at the mall, and one for trying to offer namaz. Those arrested have nothing to do with the viral video, the report quoted the commissonerate as saying.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)