New Delhi: The Economic Survey 2021-22 and Union Budget 2022-23 presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the post-Budget analysis made prominent headlines in Urdu papers for much of the week, but the upcoming assembly elections in five states hardly ever went off the front pages, with the focus being on Uttar Pradesh.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of Page 1 news and the editorial stances taken by some prominent Urdu newspapers this week.
Union Budget 2022-23 remained the highlight of the week with Inquilab, on its front page on 2 February, carrying the headline in bold: ‘General Budget has no relief for the common man‘. Siasat’s headline gave a brief overview of items such as leather goods and transformers that would become cheaper, and others that would become more expensive. The paper also carried the statements of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who described the Budget as one that would bring opportunities for the common Indian — and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who said that it had nothing for the common Indian.
Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, however, described it as a Budget that would set the foundations of an economic and social backbone of an economy of international standards. On 3 February, the front page of Roznama prominently displayed the criticism of the Budget by the opposition members in the Rajya Sabha, who said the government had failed to take steps to help the people affected by the backlog of inflation, unemployment, and the situation created by Covid.
In its editorial on 2 February, Inquilab wrote that while it is not realistic to expect the Budget to offer succour to every segment of society, there are issues that it could have addressed effectively, but did not. Among the things it highlighted were fuel prices and the need for a hike in the MGNREGA allocation. The headline of Roznama’s editorial translated to ‘Budget: Common man’s problems continue‘. The Budget, the paper argued, had made no interventions to bring down unemployment and inflation. It was also critical of what it called the “focus of the Budget on PPP, which is just another term for privatisation”.
“The Budget has nothing for the common man,” said Siasat’s editorial, pointing out that the Budget has belied expectations that the government, given the impending assembly election in five states including the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, would announce provisions for income and employment.
In its editorial on 3 February, Inquilab argued that while there may be many ways of reading and analysing the numbers, given the state of unemployment and the aftershocks of the Covid pandemic, the Budget falls short of the radical and revolutionary measures that were the need of the hour. Roznama’s editorial on the same day talked about the announcement of making post offices institutions of core banking a good, albeit delayed step and said it is a good antidote to the distrust in banks fuelled by the sudden 2016 decision of demonetisation.
Roznama in its Page 1 report on 3 February, pointed out that rating agency Crisil estimates 7.8 per cent real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the fiscal year 2022-23, while the economic survey projected it to be 8.5 per cent.
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Uttar Pradesh and Punjab elections continued to take up prime space on the Urdu newspapers’ front pages. The news about alleged firing on the car of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi on his way from Delhi to Meerut was carried on the front page of both Siasat and Inquilab on 4 February. A day earlier, the Inquilab front page had stories about Amit Shah distributing leaflets his door-to-door campaign in Badaun, and a declaration by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav that the elections are a “fight between brotherhood and BJP”. Another story on the same day announced Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi’s unveiling of the party manifesto in Uttarakhand, when she declared that inflation and unemployment are at their zenith in the country.
On 1 February, alongside a story about Akhikesh Yadav filing his nomination from Karhal, Inquilab’s page one also carried the news about the Election Commission of India extending the ban on physical rallies to 11 February.
In its 30 January editorial, whose headline translates to ‘BJP losing its head in UP‘, Siasat said while there are campaign restrictions in place in view of the pandemic, the BJP events, including one attended by the home minister himself, saw Covid norms such as masking and social distancing norms being violated. The paper also claimed that in his promptness to make alliances, Akhilesh Yadav had left the BJP with very few choices.
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On 30 January, the lone news on Siasat’s front page was about on The New York Times’ report about India having bought spying software Pegasus from Israel as part of a defence deal. A day later both Sahara and Inquilab’s front pages carried the report that new public interest litigation had been filed in the Supreme Court in the wake of the NYT revelations.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)
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