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‘BJP set example, Nitish followed suit’ — what Urdu press wrote about Bihar switcheroo

ThePrint’s round-up of how the Urdu media covered various news events through the week, and the editorial positions some of them took.

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New Delhi: The election of India’s new Vice-President and the street politics over rising prices made the Urdu front pages this week. But that was before Bihar’s power politics became the most important news of the day, hogging space both on the front pages and in the editorials.

Editorials compared the resignation and subsequent re-appointment of Nitish Kumar as chief minister of Bihar to what happened a few months ago in Maharashtra, saying that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has often done to others what Kumar did to them.

Besides these, the ongoing controversy over the Chamarajpet Idgah in Bengaluru, the First Information Reports against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma, and the flare-up between the Israeli army and Palestinian militants in Gaza made the front pages of the Urdu newspapers.

ThePrint brings you the weekly roundup from the Urdu press.


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Bihar power play

The political upheaval in Bihar — which saw chief minister and Janata Dal (United) supremo Nitish Kumar switch coalition partners mid-term once again — dominated the front pages towards the latter half of the week.

Hinting at what was imminent, Siasat wrote on its 9 August front page about a statement by Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader Shivanand Tiwari. Tiwari had said at a press conference that there was room for a JD(U)-RJD alliance, given that the distance between the BJP and the JD(U) appeared to be increasing. 

Nitish went on to break his alliance with the BJP and resign as CM that same day, before being sworn in once more on 10 August at the head of a new coalition government with the RJD and others including the Congress and Left parties.

In its editorial on 10 August, Sahara wrote that the JD(U), the RJD, the Congress, and the Left parties could pose challenges for the BJP in both 2024 and 2025 because of the social engineering of the alliance. The fact that Bihar was no longer in the BJP’s hands also has implications for other states such as Jharkhand, Odisha, and West Bengal, all of which together account for 117 Lok Sabha seats, the editorial said.

On 11 August, Inquilab published a seven-column lead story about Nitish’s return to the CM’s chair with RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav as his deputy, along with a photo of the two leaders embracing. The paper wrote that the new government was instituted just a day after the JD(U) parted ways with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). 

The new Bihar government also made the front pages of both Siasat and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, with both papers highlighting the fact that this was Kumar’s eighth stint in the chair in their headlines. 

In an editorial titled ‘Nitish Kumar’s new leap’ on 11 August, Inquilab wrote that by walking out of the NDA and realigning with his erstwhile allies, Nitish had not only strengthened his grasp over the CM’s chair but also given a new lease of life to his allies, who can now plan to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha election and the 2025 Bihar assembly polls together. 

In its editorial the same day, Siasat discussed why “Bihar did not become Maharashtra”. The paper argued that like the RJD — which despite having more MLAs in the state assembly chose to let Nitish remain CM — opposition parties at the national level must keep their individual political interests aside in the larger interest of unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. 

The same day, Sahara’s editorial described Nitish’s change of allies as a “blow” to the BJP ahead of the 2024 parliamentary and 2025 Bihar assembly elections. The editorial said that although the BJP was now accusing Kumar of having “betrayed” the mandate of the people by walking out of the alliance, it had done the same thing in Maharashtra when it brought down Uddhav Thackeray’s government. 

The editorial said that even if Kumar’s resignation and subsequent swearing-in didn’t pass the test of political ethics, it was the BJP that had shown the path. 

On 12 August, Inquilab wrote on its front page that the cabinet expansion in Bihar would happen after 15 August. 

Congress protests

The Congress party’s protests on the issues of inflation and the Goods and Services Tax received prominent coverage from the Urdu media. On 6 August, Siasat devoted eight columns on its front page to covering a protest led by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. The report, carried with photos of Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi squatting on the street, highlighted how the siblings had been detained by the police for about six hours.

The protest also received page-one coverage in Inquilab and Sahara the same day. Along with reports on the protest, Sahara also quoted Rahul Gandhi saying that the income of 70 years had been squandered in eight years. 

In its editorial the same day, Siasat wrote that the rise in prices is a fact, and the central government needs to take steps to control it. Never has a government turned a blind eye to the reality of inflation, the editorial said. 

Nupur Sharma, Bengaluru Idgah, and Navika Kumar

On 11 August, Sahara, Siasat, and Inquilab carried front page news reports of the Supreme Court clubbing together First Information Reports against former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma for her controversial remarks on the Prophet Muhammad, and transferring the case to Delhi. The newspaper described the development as a relief for Sharma.

On the same day, Roznama also reported on its front page that the controversy over Bengaluru’s Chamarajpet Idgah maidan had resurfaced. This is a decades-old dispute nvolving the Karnataka State Board For Auqaf (also known as the Wakf board) and Bengaluru’s municipal body, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP).

Hindutva groups have been calling for the ground — where there is an Idgah for prayers on the Islamic festivals of Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha — to be retained as a civic playground and not be handed over to the Wakf board.

Although the BBMP gave up its claim over the 2.1 acres in June, it has declared the Karnataka revenue department, not the Wakf board, to be the default owner of the land.

The newspaper wrote that the dispute was happening in the middle of a controversy surrounding three communal killings in the state.

On 9 August, Sahara and Inquilab reported that the Supreme Court had granted interim protection from arrest to Times Now anchor Navika Kumar over Nupur Sharma’s remarks, which were made during a TV debate moderated by Kumar.

A bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hema Kohli asked Delhi, West Bengal, and Jammu & Kashmir not to take any punitive action until further orders, and gave two weeks to the police departments of these states to file their replies.

Jagdeep Dhankhar is new VP

The election of former West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar as the new Vice-President of India was on the front pages of both Sahara and Siasat. On 7 August, Siasat announced that he was elected with 528 votes.

Dhankhar was up against opposition candidate Margaret Alva, who secured 182 votes.

On 12 August, all three newspapers carried front-page reports, along with photographs, of Dhankhar being sworn into office by President Droupadi Murmu. 


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Gaza-Israel flare-up

The flare-up between the Israeli army and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza made the front pages of both Sahara and Inquilab on 8 August. The papers reported that Khaled Mansour — a senior commander of a militant group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement —  was killed in an Israeli airstrike.

The reports said that the United Nations Security Council had called a meeting over the escalating tensions. According to the reports, the Palestinian Ministry of Health had said that 32 people —  including six children —  had been killed in Israeli attacks since last Friday and 215 had been wounded. 

Inquilab described Israel’s action as barbaric and called the people killed in the airstrikes — including Mansour — martyrs.

On 8 August, Siasat’s editorial said Israel continued to show its “inhuman aggression” and, despite occupying Palestinian territories and constantly expanding, continues to attack them on “one pretext or another”.

These “attacks” — which are carried out “from time to time” — cause the climate of the whole of the Middle East to plummet, the editorial said.

As Palestinians suffer — their lives and homes demolished by such “inhuman aggression” — the world remains a mute spectator, the editorial said.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


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