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Could opposition breach ‘BJP fortress’ Gujarat? Urdu press says polls can surprise

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 increasingly acrimonious election campaign in Gujarat and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s yatra “of love” remained the focus of the political coverage in Urdu papers all of this week.

Significant coverage was given to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s speeches in Gujarat, where he targeted the Union government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over issues ranging from demonetisation and the impact of the Covid pandemic. 

However, even the rising electoral mercury couldn’t keep Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra off the front pages of Urdu newspapers.  

Among other topics that gained significant attention this week were Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s scathing comments on the film Kashmir Files and the diplomatic row that followed, India’s assumption of the G-20 presidency, and proceedings in the Supreme Court over judicial appointments.

ThePrint brings you a wrap of all that was covered by Urdu newspapers this week.


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Gujarat elections

The election campaign in the first phase of Gujarat’s two-phase assembly polls and the eventual voting took up significant space on the front pages of all three Urdu papers — Inquilab, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, and Siasat

On 26 November, Inquilab’s front page lead was Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement on the “lessons” learnt after the 2002 post-Godhra riots and the “lasting peace” in Gujarat since.

Shah was speaking at Mahudha in Kheda district on 25 November. 

A 29 November editorial in Inquilab said that it is possible that Gujarat decides in a way that nobody would have imagined, even if that possibility does not go down too well with those who think of the state as “BJP’s fortress”. 

The state had once voted for development, the editorial further said, and claims of economic development rang true because the state had a large business community. But now people want a political party that would actively work for their welfare.

An editorial in Siasat the same day stated that the people of Gujarat are being misled with divisive issues such as the Uniform Civil Code, which it said has no bearing on the people of the state or its government since all it needs is a legislative initiative by the Centre.

On 29 November, Sahara carried as its front page lead Kharge’s statement at Gujarat’s Dediapada that nobody ever drank the tea he makes. Kharge was referring to Modi’s frequent refrain of selling tea in his boyhood days and his own disadvantaged background as a Dalit leader. 

Another report by the same publication was about Modi’s campaign promise that Gujarat would scale new heights if it continued to vote for the BJP.  The prime minister was addressing a rally at Palitana in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district. 

On 30 November, Inquilab reported the war of words in Gujarat between the Congress and BJP after Kharge had likened Modi to the many-headed Ravana in a speech in Gujarat. 

The same day, Siasat carried a report on Kharge’s campaign speech in which the Congress president claimed that for various reasons ranging from demonetisation, faulty implementation of GST, and the Covid pandemic, the average income of Gujarat had now dipped below the national average. 

On 2 December — a day after the first phase of elections — all three newspapers carried the voting percentage. 

Bharat Jodo Yatra

In an editorial on 26 November, Inquilab wrote that people now understand that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is against the efforts to divide society along religious lines and the propaganda that fosters hate among communities.

On 28 November, Siasat carried a front-page report about Rahul Gandhi riding a motorcycle during the yatra

The same day, Inquilab reported the Congress as claiming that the yatra had changed the political narrative in the country and left BJP smarting.

On 29 November, Siasat’s ran a report on its front page about Gandhi’s statement that crores of rupees had been spent to sully his image. 

The next day, the paper carried a photo from the yatra that showed Gandhi and former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath surrounded by crowds.

On 2 December, the publication reported that actor Swara Bhaskar had joined the yatra.  The newspaper also carried a photo of Gandhi and Bhasker walking together.

In its editorial the same day, Inquilab wrote that the yatra is not about politics but about fostering love, brotherhood, equality, and the secular fabric of society that many Indians had grown up with. 

The editorial also carried Rahul Gandhi’s philosophical statement that he had left both himself and the Congress behind and was becoming more and more potent with each passing day. 

Supreme Court

Proceedings of the Supreme Court are a matter of course and are usually followed very closely by Urdu papers, but this week’s face-off between the judiciary and Union Minister Law and Justice Kiren Rijiju received particularly prominent coverage.  

On 29 November, Inquilab reported on its front page that the Supreme Court was “deeply displeased” at Rijiju’s statement objecting to the court’s observation that the “government is sitting on files” for judicial appointments

On 30 November, Sahara reported that the central government approved two names recommended by the collegium for appointment as judges. 

Other proceedings in the Supreme Court also got prominent coverage. On 29 November, Siasat’s front page carried a story about the government’s stand in the Supreme Court that while spreading one’s religion is a fundamental right, converting another person is not.  

The central government’s stand came as the court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay seeking measures against “forced conversion”. 

On 1 December, Sahara reported that 2002 gangrape survivor Bilkis Bano had filed a review petition challenging the release of the rapists in the case. The news was also on the front page of Inquilab.

The Kashmir Files

The rumpus that followed Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s description of Kashmir Files as “a propaganda, vulgar” film at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) garnered significant coverage in the Urdu press.

Lapid was the jury chief at IFFI in Goa and made the remarks before a number of dignitaries, including Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur.

On 30 November, Inquilab carried Lapid’s statement as its lead report. On the same day, Siasat reported that Israel’s Ambassador to India Naor Gilon had slammed his remarks.

On 1 December, Inquilab reported Lapid’s statement that he stood by his comments. Sahara’s front page flyer also reported the statement, carrying as headline his simple reiteration: “Somebody needed to say it”. 

In an editorial on 2 December titled ‘Ruckus over Propaganda Film”, Siasat wrote that it is essential to refrain from political interference in every sphere of life or the temptation to colour all things in one hue. The paper also warned against using the communal lens to look at every issue.

India’s G-20 presidency

On 28 November, Sahara’s front page carried news on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest edition of his monthly broadcast ‘Mann ki Baat’. In it, the paper reported that the prime minister spoke about India assuming the G-20 presidency. He also claimed in his broadcast that India had seen a spurt in the export of musical instruments.

Siasat, too, carried a report about Modi’s monthly radio address on its front page under the headline: ‘G-20 presidency is a big opportunity for India: Modi’.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


Also Read:  Urdu press says BJP’s ‘favourite’ subject, forced conversion, back in news before Gujarat polls


 

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