New Delhi: Two high-profile political resignations — former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray’s decision to step down last week and the buildup to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement that he was quitting as the leader of the Tories — kept Urdu papers busy for much of the week.
Thackeray announced that he was resigning as chief minister on 29 June in a late-night development that came soon after the Supreme Court refused to interfere with a floor test ordered by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari. A day later, Eknath Shinde, the Shiv Sena leader who raised the banner of revolt against Thackeray’s leadership, was sworn in as chief minister, with former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis as his deputy.
Faced with a growing rebellion within his own party in the UK, Johnson announced he was resigning as the leader of the Tories Thursday but said he would stay on as prime minister until his successor is found.
Among other issues, inflation remained a matter of concern for Urdu papers.
There was also a sense of triumph in their coverage of the fate of former BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma’s petition in the Supreme Court. Sharma had moved the Supreme Court to have the First Information Reports (FIRs) against her in connection with her comments on the Prophet Muhammad clubbed together.
ThePrint brings you a wrap of the news and opinion pieces that made headlines in Urdu newspapers this week.
Also Read: Up against central powers, a test of Uddhav’s acumen — Urdu press on Maharashtra crisis
Nupur Sharma’s woes in SC
The Supreme Court’s decision to turn down Sharma’s petition and its remarks while doing so made it not only to the front pages of the Urdu press but also to their editorials.
In a special column, Inquilab wrote that the court’s remarks are a reflection of the sorrow that Indian Muslims are living with. The paper wrote that while Muslims have condemned Udaipur tailor Kanhaiya Lal Teli’s killers as “blasphemous”, the Bharatiya Janata Party is still upset about Sharma’s troubles and has even held demonstrations and submitted memoranda against it.
On 2 July, Siasat carried a front-page report about the Supreme Court’s scathing criticism of Sharma that she should apologise to the nation.
In its flyer headline, the Roznama Rashtriya Sahara quoted the court as having said: “Nupur Sharma’s loose tongue has set the entire country on fire.” That sentence was also the opening line of a Siasat editorial on 2 July titled: “BJP should be ashamed at least now”. The article also quoted the court’s observation that the Delhi Police must have rolled out a red carpet for the politician. It said that there should be a case against Sharma for vitiating the atmosphere of the country and sought action against people protecting her.
In a related front-page article on 2 July, Sahara reported former Delhi lieutenant–governor Najeeb Jung calling for a discussion on who’s responsible for spreading hate and tension. He also appealed to the Supreme Court to include the adverse remarks against Sharma in its final order.
In its editorial the same day, Sahara described Sharma as a danger to the nation’s well-being — which was endorsed by the apex court too — and added that a government that’s busy “driving bulldozers” in the name of governance has now the responsibility to deal with this situation. If she’s [Sharma] not arrested even now, it will be a contempt of the law, democracy, secularism and of the court, the paper wrote.
On 5 July, Inquilab carried a front-page report about the National Commission for Women (NCW) letter asking the Uttar Pradesh Police to register a complaint against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav for his objectionable tweet against Sharma. The former chief minister was asked to respond within three days, it reported.
On 6 July, Sahara reported on its front page that 15 former judges and 77 former bureaucrats had issued a statement urging the Supreme Court to withdraw its remarks against Sharma. The group had said that the court had crossed a line (Laxman Rekha) while hearing the petition. Siasat, too, carried the story on its front page.
Also Read: Up against central powers, a test of Uddhav’s acumen — Urdu press on Maharashtra crisis
The last act of the Maharashtra political thriller played out on the front pages of the Urdu press and in its editorials. On 2 July, Inquilab’s lead report on page one quoted former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray as saying that his successor Eknath Shinde wasn’t a Shiv Sena chief minister and that the state would have a BJP chief minister, if its senior leader Amit Shah had kept his pre-election promise.
The paper also prominently reported Rashtriya Janata Dal’s mocking statement calling Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis as the nation’s first “Agniveer”. For context, it was a swipe at the BJP leader who had to give way to Eknath Shinde as his boss.
On 2 July, Sahara reported about a special session of the Maharashtra Assembly convened the next day, 3 July, and Shinde’s plan to seek a trust vote.
Siasat’s front page skipped the news of the new government altogether, instead choosing to report the Enforcement Directorate’s 10-hour questioning of Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut.
In a rare two-part editorial titled ‘2.5 years of the chief ministership of Uddhav’ on 2 July, Inquilab paid a glowing tribute to Thackeray’s tenure as chief minister and his personal leadership style as well as complimented the erstwhile Maha Vikas Agadhi government on its management of the Covid pandemic.
The paper’s editorial claimed that nobody had ever seen Thackeray flustered and that he had maintained his soft demeanor throughout his tenure. The second part of the editorial a day later said that the people who had worked with Thackeray believed he was a politician with a difference and that was perhaps why he didn’t hesitate to ally with the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress. The editorial also claimed that it was Thackeray’s foresight that led him to believe that the Shiv Sena would have ended up being a junior partner if its alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party had continued.
In its editorial on 6 July, Sahara wrote that the political storm in Maharashtra refused to settle down even after the new government was sworn in and claimed that the new dispensation seems to have made up its mind to end the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Siv Sena. The government, the paper said, has no moral validity.
In an editorial on 5 July, Siasat analysed the future prospects of Eknath Shinde as chief minister and wrote that the BJP went back on its understanding with the Shiv Sena before the elections because it wanted to be in government on its own. Giving the chief minister’s position to Shinde was a part of this strategy, the paper wrote. This, it said, means that the party (the BJP) would no longer be answerable for the government’s actions.
The BJP’s desire to run the government alone could pose problems for Shinde, the paper wrote, adding that while the Uddhav Thackeray government had provided succour to the people during the pandemic, it would now be up to Shinde to bring back normality in the state.
In its editorial on 5 July, Inquilab said that no matter how many claims were made that the country’s economy is “on the right track”, the fact that it has lost its glow is a sign of its [read, flagging] health. The editorial said that although there’s no doubt that economic activity has gained momentum after being bogged down by the pandemic, it was bound to happen anyway. That, it said, was because facing the prospect of unemployment, people — whether traders, businessmen, industrialists, or workers — went back to their livelihoods as soon as Covid restrictions were lifted, regardless of the steps taken by the government to ameliorate the situation.
On 7 July, Sahara carried a front-page report on the prices of domestic LPG cylinders going up after a gap of 48 days. The report said, according to the latest update from Indian Oil, an average household consumer will have to now pay an additional Rs 50 for an unsubsidised 14.2-kg cylinder. In Delhi, it said, the price of a 14-kg cylinder has gone up from Rs 1,003 to Rs 1,053.
The same day, Sahara carried a front-page report on the Congress’s criticism of the Modi government regarding inflation. The paper quoted the Congress as having said that the central government was “running a bulldozer of inflation” on the public.
In its editorial on the issue the same day, Sahara said that the Reserve Bank of India was changing repo rate and reverse repo rate every three months to help ease inflation without any effect and that the government’s promises of economic stability seem empty in the face of the soaring inflation.
On 8 July, Siasat said in an editorial that the continuous rise in gas prices was putting people under an inescapable economic burden.
The cases against Alt-News co-founder Mohammed Zubair and that against Zee News anchor Rohit Ranjan for broadcasting Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement allegedly out of context also made way to the front pages of Urdu newspapers.
On 8 July, Siasat and Inquilab reported that Zubair, who was arrested for a 2018 tweet, had moved a bail application before the Supreme Court.
On 6 July, Inquilab carried a front-page report of Noida Police taking Ranjan into custody after he somehow managed to evade a team of the Chhattisgarh Police which had come to arrest him.
This came a day after the paper had reported that the Congress had registered police complaints against BJP leaders in seven states for circulating the video that got Ranjan into trouble.
On 5 July, Siasat carried a front-page report about a press conference that some senior journalists had held at the Press Club of India in Delhi in support of Zubair. The newspaper quoted the journalists as calling the arrest an attack on press freedom and also saying that never before had it been so dangerous to be a journalist in India as it is now.
Boris Johnson’s resignation
Embattled UK Prime Minister Johnson’s announcement that he was resigning as the leader of the Tories in the face of a revolt within his own government and his imminent removal from 10 Downing Street made it to the front pages of both Inquilab and Sahara on 8 July.
On 6 July, Siasat described the resignation of two members of Johnson’s cabinet — Rishi Sunak and Sajid Javidas — a blow.
In an editorial on Johnson’s increasingly untenable situation on 7 July, Siasat wrote that apart from issues like inflation and power rates, questions were also being raised about Johnson’s own conduct. Meanwhile, the race for his successor was hotting up in the party, with even former prime minister Tony Blair becoming active, the paper reported.
(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)
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