New Delhi: The raids and the subsequent ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI) and the drama surrounding the Congress presidential elections got prominent coverage in the Urdu press throughout the week.
On 28 September, the Ministry of Home Affairs banned Islamic outfit PFI — a development that came after a series of arrests the week before. While Urdu newspapers reported the government’s crackdown against the organisation, an editorial said that although action should be taken against those supporting terrorist activities, these should be uniform and shouldn’t discriminate on the grounds of affiliations.
Despite the government’s crackdown on the PFI, it was the drama surrounding this month’s Congress presidential elections that took up most of the Urdu press’ attention. Much of the coverage focused on the crisis that almost threatened the state government under Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, even as editorials called out some Congress leaders for their “selfishness”.
ThePrint brings you a roundup of what is making headlines in the Urdu press.
Popular Front of India
On 24 September — two days after the first set of arrests in the PFI case — Inquilab’s front page carried the news of how a bandh called in Kerala in connection with the arrests had disrupted normal life.
On 25 September, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara carried the news of the arrest of six alleged PFI members on its front page. On 28 September, Sahara reported that the crackdown against the PFI continued with the arrests of 150 more people.
On 29 September, the lead story on Inquilab’s front page reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs had banned the PFI for five years.
In its editorial on the ban on 30 September, Siasat said that while there’s every justification for the government to act against any organisation that supports terror activities and attempts to disrupt peace and order in the country, so far, there has been nothing but the claims of the investigative agencies to support the ban.
The editorial also said that there were several organisations in the country — including some with links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — that have been proved to be involved in terror activities and bomb blasts. Action taken in such cases should be indiscriminate and without prejudice to their affiliations, the editorial said.
The Congress president polls, which rapidly metamorphosed into a political crisis in Rajasthan, hogged the front pages throughout the week.
On 25 September, Sahara carried a front-page report that the process for filing nominations for Congress presidential elections had begun. The report also carried photos of Congress leaders Digvijaya Singh, Manish Tewari, Ashok Gehlot, and Shashi Tharoor as possible contenders for the top position.
A quirky headline a day later, however, announced the crisis that was threatening the Congress government in Rajasthan. The headline read: “Battle royale in Rajasthan: Pilot’s flight hijacked”.
The same day, Inquilab’s reported on its front page that 90 Congress legislators in Rajasthan had threatened to resign if Gehlot was taken off his position as chief minister.
After following the twists and turns of the drama closely, on 30 September, Sahara reported Gehlot was out of the presidential race.
The report also said that there were two remaining contenders for the position — former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh and Thiruvananthapuram Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor. A photo carried alongside showed the two putative contenders hugging.
Both Siasat and Inquilab, which had been following the drama closely, also reported Gehlot’s decision to drop out of the race on their front pages, also with the photo of Tharoor and Singh.
Inquilab quoted Gehlot as having claimed that he had nothing to do with the “rebellion” in his state unit and that it is the Congress president who will decide who would be chief minister of Rajasthan.
Editorials of all three papers meanwhile stayed focused on the future of the Congress government in Rajasthan — one of only two states where the party is in power. Many were critical of Congress leader and former Rajasthan Congress chief Sachin Pilot.
In an editorial on 29 September, Inquilab wrote that although Pilot — with whom Gehlot has had a running feud — isn’t an actor in the unfolding drama in the state, the story keeps coming back to him. The problem of this “young general” of the Congress party, the editorial said, is that he is in a hurry.
On 30 September, another editorial in the paper — this one titled: “Rajasthan: the knot is yet to be unravelled” — said that while the issue of the Congress presidential elections may have been resolved at the moment, the question is whether the Congress high command could rein in Pilot and whether he would agree to wait.
The editorial also said that Rajasthan was different from Goa (where the party unsuccessfully staked claim to form a government in 2018) Madhya Pradesh, and Uttarakhand (both states where crises within the Congress caused governments to fall). But the party will have to be cautious and prevent Pilot from attempting another crossover, the paper said.
In its 27 September editorial, Siasat said that in refraining from making any comments or putting on his rebellious hat, Pilot had behaved maturely and that Gehlot, too, should look at the good of the country, the party, and his state, rather than just personal gains.
Meanwhile, as the crisis continued to unfold, Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ also got coverage on the front pages of Urdu newspapers. On 24 September, Inquilab quoted Congress spokesperson Pawan Khera as linking the yatra to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent mosque visit in Delhi. Khera, according to the paper, said that within just 15 days of the yatra, the RSS chief was forced to visit a mosque.
On 27 September, Siasat carried a photo of Gandhi marching in Kerala. Three days later it reported that the yatra had completed its Kerala leg and was all set to enter Karnataka.
On 26 September, Sahara reported on its front page that on the 109th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister late Chaudhary Devi Lal, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) organised a ‘Samman Diwas’ rally in Fatehabad, Haryana.
Several senior leaders of the opposition — such as Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav, former Maharashtra CM Sharad Pawar, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, and Janata Dal (United) general secretary K.C. Tyagi — attended the event and even shared the stage.
On 27 September, Sahara’s front page carried a report on former Congress leader and former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad launching a new party — the Democratic Azad Party.
The same day, Inquilab carried a report about Nitish Kumar’s and Tejashwi Yadav’s visit to Haryana. The paper also carried an interview of JD(U)’s Tyagi, who is quoted as saying that the visit was successful and that with the JD(U) quitting the NDA, the Opposition’s “sadness is over”.
In its editorial on 26 September, Sahara said the current state of the Congress wasn’t the only problem that the opposition faces: The fact that there was an absence of a clear opposition contender for the post of prime minister was also a challenge, it added.
Beating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without a strong and popular face is unthinkable, the paper said. Although West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and now Bihar CM Nitish are being projected as possible candidates, the real question is whether the Opposition will be able to agree on those names, the editorial said.
It also went on to add that to beat the BJP in the next parliamentary elections, simply meeting and sharing a stage with opposition parties isn’t sufficient — what’s really needed is a big movement like the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
On 29 September, both Inquilab and Siasat carried news of Lalu Prasad Yadav’s election as the national president of Rashtriya Janata Dal for the ninth time. His term will begin on 10 October and go up to 2025.
The current hearing in the Gyanvapi mosque-Kashi Vishwanath temple dispute made page one news several times in the week. On 27 September, Inquilab reported on its front page that the Supreme Court had refused to stay trial in the case, asking petitioners to approach the high court instead. In an inset, the paper reported that Anjuman Intezamia Masjid Committee, which manages the mosque, had objected to the decision to allow mobile phones inside the complex.
On 27 September, Siasat reported that two groups from the Hindu side of the dispute had differences over whether an alleged ‘Shivling’ found on the mosque premises should be subjected to carbon dating.
On 30 September, Sahara wrote on its front page that the hearing on the matter had been concluded and a verdict will be given on 7 October.
On 26 September, Sahara reported on its front page that the Lucknow Municipal Corporation, which is currently ruled by the BJP, has decided to rename several localities in the city after freedom fighters and Right-wing thinkers — a development that comes ahead of the municipal elections later this year.
The Opposition has termed the move politically motivated, the paper reported.
Meanwhile, Lucknow Mayor Sanyukta Bhatia has called this a bid to erase signs of India’s colonial past and honour those who fought for an independent India, the report said.
Mann ki Baat
On 26 September, Sahara carried a front-page report on the 93rd edition of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s monthly ‘Mann ki Baat’ broadcast. The paper reported Modi as having appreciated two non-governmental organisation — the Bengaluru-based ‘Youth for Parivarthan’ and the Meerut-based ‘Kabad se Jugad’ — for their work on cleanliness and garbage disposal.
The report quoted Modi as saying that the country was facing several challenges related to the environment and that serious and sustained efforts are needed to address them.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)