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BJP’s barbs at Congress prez polls will get sharper as ‘Bharat Jodo’ goes on, says Urdu press

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: From the ongoing hearings in the Supreme Court on the hijab case, the twists and turns in the Gyanvapi case, and the raids against the Popular Front of India (PFI), there was much to keep the Urdu press busy this week. But it’s the upcoming Congress presidential polls and Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra that really kept papers buzzing. 

Much of their coverage centred on the party’s upcoming presidential polls, described as the only system of its kind in a political party in India.

Among other news, the survey of madrasas in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the rising communalism across the country jostled for space with cross-country raids against the PFI and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) Muslim outreach. 

ThePrint brings you glimpses from the Urdu press. 

Also Read: ‘Will Gyanvapi become another Babri’, asks Urdu press as UP court allows Hindu women’s plea

Congress president elections

News of Congress’s presidential elections as well as its Bharat Jodo Yatra made major headlines in Urdu papers.   

On 22 September, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara reported that one of the contenders for the position, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot met interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi while another contender, Thiruvananthapuram Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor, had met Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry.  

On 23 September, Inquilab and Siasat both announced that a notification for the elections had been issued. In its report, Inquilab said that although the election, to be held on 17 October, had previously been seen as a direct contest between Gehlot and Tharoor, the names of former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tewari are also doing the rounds.

In its editorial published the same day, Siasat asked if the elections were going to lead to yet another round of power tussle between Gehlot — believed to be the favourite for the position because of his proximity to the Gandhi family — and his former deputy and current Tonk Member of Legislative Assembly Sachin Pilot.

The editorial said that after Rahul Gandhi made it clear that the party would abide by the “one man, one post” norm, it’s clear that Gehlot will have to step down as chief minister if he is elected Congress president. 

The editorial added that Gehlot was concerned that if he stepped aside, a younger and more popular Pilot, who revolted against him in 2020, could get the position.

Apart from the presidential elections, another topic that occupied the Urdu press was the Congress party’s ongoing “Bharat Jodo Yatra”. 

In its 18 September editorial, Inquilab wrote that the success of the Congress’ yatra proves that the country isn’t what television propaganda and the “godi media” (a term for media running government propaganda) make it out to be.

On 19 September, Siasat’s front page reported that the Congress’s yatra had covered 200 km in 11 days. The paper, which also carried a photo showing Gandhi and other Congress leaders walking in Kerala, reported that even though it was still early days, the yatra had turned out to be a resounding success.

In its 21 September editorial, Inquilab wrote about the Congress’ system of electing a president being the only one demanding a consensus within the party and linked the BJP’s criticism of the election to the “Bharat Jodo Yatra”, saying it would grow sharper if the yatra proved to be a success.          

Also Read: ‘Modi’s praise, his tears’: Urdu press says time will tell if BJP had role in Azad’s ‘dramatic’ exit


On 20 September, Inquilab carried a front-page report about Hindu-Muslim tensions in the British city of Leicester after last week’s match between India and Pakistan as part of the Asia Cup. Tensions reached their peak this week but police say the situation is now back to normal. The report said 27 people had been arrested.

On 21 September, Sahara’s editorial said that a rapid wave of sectarianism has engulfed the entire country and that the climate is so vitiated that Muslims are forced to consider themselves second-class citizens.

Muslims’ individuality, identity, Islamic rituals, civilisation, and culture have come under attack, the editorial said. Deprivation of fundamental rights, extra-judicial killings, torture, beatings, humiliation, false and meaningless cases, and imprisonment for years have been made the destiny of Muslims, it stated, adding that such an atmosphere has been created for political ends. 

In the secular Republic of India, most of the institutions have also turned against Muslims, the editorial said, adding that while the legislature is dominated by sectarian elements, the judiciary also seems to have many reservations (about protecting minorities).

PFI action

The concerted action by law enforcement agencies Thursday against the PFI across several Indian states made it to Urdu front pages Friday, although the editorials remained resolutely silent. There were conflicting reports on how many states the raids were conducted in, although newspaper reports were consistent on the number of people arrested.  

On 23 September, Siasat’s front-page report said there was a “crackdown” against the PFI and that the National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, and state police had jointly conducted raids in 11 states across India, arresting 106 people. 

On the other hand, Inquilab reported that raids were conducted in 15 states. It also said there were demonstrations against the police action and that a one-day bandh had been called in Kerala to protest the action. 

Sahara, meanwhile, reported raids in 13 states.

RSS Muslim outreach

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s meeting with prominent Muslim leaders and intellectuals, and his subsequent visit to Islamic institutions made front-page news in Urdu papers. 

On 23 September, Sahara carried a front-page story of Bhagwat’s visits to a mosque and a madrasa, along with photos of the visit. The paper also reported Bhagwat’s meeting with Muslim leaders and intellectuals — his second such meeting in a month, the paper said — and his one-on-one meeting with the All India Imam Organisation’s Umer Ahmed Ilyasi, who described Bhagwat as the “father of the nation”.

Just two days before this, Sahara had reported Bhagwat’s comments at a book launch event on its front page, where the RSS leader had said that India doesn’t need to imitate anybody and it needs to preserve its identity and connect to its “glorious past”.

Also Read: ‘Did Gujarat govt think of Bilkis’s security?’ — Urdu press spotlight remains on rapists’ release

On madrasas

The scrutiny of madrasa education in three states — Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Assam — also found space in Urdu papers.

In its editorial on 20 September, Sahara said it was important to get to the root of scrutiny that madrasas are now facing in many states. It also said that less than 5 per cent of Muslim children study in madrasas and that madrasas catered to non-Muslim children as well.

The editorial cited the example of reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy, who played a significant role in the abolition of the practice of Sati in India. Roy, the editorial said, was also educated at madrasas — first at Madrasa Aliya in West Bengal and then at a madrasa in Phulwari Sharif in present-day Bihar.

On 21 September, Sahara reported on its front page that the Uttarakhand government under Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had devised an action plan to survey madrasas in the state and that the government is working on plans to introduce NCERT syllabus in madrasas across the state.  

The next day, Sahara also published a story on its front page on the Assam government considering regulating private madrasas. The report quoted Assam Education Minister Ranoj Pegu as saying that under the current law the government has the power to regulate private madrasas.

The proposal came under consideration after several seminary teachers were arrested for having links to radical organisations, the paper reported.  

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: ‘Bid to gain political mileage before Gujarat polls’ — Urdu press on Bilkis Bano convicts’ release


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