New Delhi: Inflation was among the key issues that came into focus over the week in India’s Urdu press, prompted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks about fuel prices during a virtual Covid-19 review meeting with chief ministers.
Apart from inflation, issues such as hijab, loudspeakers and Hanuman Chalisa, which have been subject to controversy in many parts of the country, dominated headlines this past week.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of headlines and editorials in the Urdu press this week.
Inflation & fuel prices
Chairing a Covid-19 review meeting of chief ministers Wednesday, Prime minister Narendra Modi took an unlikely detour into the realm of state taxes on fuel prices. His remarks shone a light on rising inflation, which has emerged as a key issue amid the ongoing tussle between the Centre and opposition-ruled states.
All three newspapers, Inquilab, Siasat and Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, carried PM Modi’s remarks as their lead reports Thursday. While Inquilab and Siasat headlined the reports with the PM’s appeal to states to reduce VAT on petrol and diesel, Sahara chose to lead with the Modi asking states to stay prepared on the Covid front.
The next day, Inquilab’s lead focused on opposition chief ministers’ responses to PM Modi’s remarks, featuring Mamata Banerjee (West Bengal), Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and K. Chandrashekar Rao (Telangana), in addition to a statement by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi.
In its editorial on 28 April, Inquilab referred to the hit song ‘Mehangai maar gayi’ (assault by rising prices) from 1974’s Manoj Kumar-starrer ‘Roti, Kapda aur Makaan’ to suggest that the lyrics resonate with the common people even today. The paper also emphasised the need for India to increase its production of palm oil to reduce dependence on Indonesia.
Siasat, in its editorial the same day, wrote that PM Modi chose to “shift the responsibility” on opposition states instead of deliberating on taxes on petroleum products levied by the central government. The editorial went further to talk about “a lack of clarity” about the source of funds for welfare schemes, asking whether they are being funded by Centre’s GST collections from states. Siasat also said there is no clarity on corporate loans that have “been waived by the BJP in exchange for political funding”.
The next day, another editorial in Siasat asked, “Why aren’t petroleum goods under GST?” Arguing in favour of a uniform taxation policy for petroleum products, the paper said the Centre and states should stop trading blame and instead work towards finding a solution to the problem.
Hanuman Chalisa, hate speech & bulldozers
The Supreme Court’s rap to the Uttarakhand government, making it responsible for preventing the delivery of communally charged speeches, made it to the front pages of the Urdu newspapers on 27 April.
A day later, Inquilab reported on page one that the SC’s stance had compelled the Uttarakhand government to refuse permission for a Maha Panchayat to be held in Haridwar, followed by the cancellation of a Dharma Sansad in Roorkee. The paper had reported on 27 April about a proposal by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to put India on the red list, in view of “human rights violations” in the country.
Siasat’s front page on 26 April carried a report about tensions simmering in Karnataka “over Bible after hijab”.
Sahara, on 25 April, carried a report about BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj’s Facebook post advising Hindus to “keep bows and arrows to deal with jihadis if the need arises”.
Focus also remained on legal action against the Ranas, a controversial political couple from Maharashtra, and the Uttar Pradesh government’s drive against loudspeakers.
The recitation of Hanuman Chalisa has become a new poll issue, Sahara wrote in an editorial on 29 April, referring to the arrest of MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband Ravi, both Independents, over their plan to recite the Hanuman Chalisa in front of Matoshree, the private resident of Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray.
The issue is not about noise pollution, the paper wrote, but about the “polluted viewpoint of the BJP and leaders associated with it”. It added that Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray seems to have chosen the issue of loudspeakers to launch his second political innings despite his party falling to the margins of Maharashtra politics.
Inquilab, in an editorial on 27 April, referred to former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan’s statement that an “anti-minority tag” could affect the demand for Indian products abroad. Extolling Rajan’s impressive credentials, the paper wrote that governments, policymakers or investors can only afford to ignore his words at their own peril.
In another editorial titled “political bulldozer” on 23 April, Inquilab wrote that Delhi witnessed a spike in Covid-19 cases the same day bulldozers rolled down the streets of Jahangirpuri. The sound of bulldozers drowned fears of Covid-19, the paper said, adding that CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat was the only politician who stood firm in front of the bulldozers.
Congress-Prashant Kishor saga
Siasat, in an editorial on 25 April, reported that Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) has enlisted the services of IPAC, previously associated with poll strategist Prashant Kishor, at a time when the Congress party is struggling to revive itself in Telangana. In such a situation, Kishor joining the Congress would be meaningless, the editorial said, adding that the Congress leadership should consider all factors before taking a call in this regard.
Inquilab and Siasat reported on their front pages on 26 April about the Congress’s decision to hold a ‘Sankalp Chintan Shivir’ to deliberate on the recommendations of a panel formed to suggest measures to strengthen the party before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. The ‘Sankalp Chintan Shivir’ is to be held in Udaipur on 13, 14 and 15 May.
On 27 April, Sahara’s front page featured a comment by Rahul Gandhi about a drop of 6 per cent in the country’s overall labour partnership rate between 2017 and 2022. The Congress leader had cited data by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) to train his guns on the Narendra Modi government.
An editorial in Siasat on the same day said despite the breakdown in talks between Prashant Kishor and the Congress, the party must take a cue from its repeated failures to safeguard its existence. It will not be easy for the Congress to turn its fortunes around unless the entire party machinery, from its leadership to booth workers, work toward implementing a comprehensive plan, the editorial added.
PM Modi in Kashmir
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir made the front pages of leading Urdu dailies on 24 April. Inquilab’s lead story focused on the PM’s statement about democracy being strengthened in the Union Territory.
On 25 April, Sahara reported on its front page that the PM had laid foundation stones of projects worth Rs 20,000 crore in J&K. The paper also carried the news of PM Modi receiving the first Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar award, in addition to him extending early Eid and Akshay Tritiya greetings. The next day, Sahara reported that the Supreme Court will hear pleas challenging the abrogation of Article 370 after its summer vacation.
Medical education & CBSE
Getting a medical education is no less than a dream for poor children, an editorial in Sahara said on 25 April. The editorial went further to add that it is equally difficult for children of economically disadvantaged families to get medical treatment. The government must take a cue from the situation in China and Ukraine and make arrangements to ensure that Indians do not have to go abroad to get medical education, the editorial added.
On 26 April, Sahara reported on its front page that the Tamil Nadu assembly passed a bill authorising the state government to appoint vice-chancellors to various state-run universities.
The removal of chapters on democracy and diversity, along with a poem by Faiz Ahmad Faiz, from CBSE textbooks made it to the front page of Inquilab the same day. The paper accompanied the story with an illustration showing themes of employment, communal harmony and independence of institutions being thrust into a shredding machine.
Sahara on 27 April reported on its front page the central government’s decision to abolish the quota available to Members of Parliament (MPs) to recommend admissions to Kendriya Vidyalayas, according to the revised admission guidelines issued by the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan.
(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)