The issue of granting citizenship to just non-Muslims from the region, on coming into India, has led to many editorials and comments. An unusual one is a two-part editorial on the Bill in Munsif. On January 11 and 12, the broadsheet held forth in detail. On January 11, it wrote: “At one level, terming Indians foreigners and saying they should be thrown out of India, and on the other, by law, giving outsiders Indian citizenship, only the BJP is capable of this hypocrisy.” The paper said that “India’s system and its secular rooh or soul” is under attack. The BJP is doing this for supposed political benefits in Assam and West Bengal, but it will instead just set the place on fire.
On January 12, the paper wrote: “As Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said that the refugee burden will not be borne by just Assam, but the entire country, one must ask him, what about the already present Rohingya refugees in the country…? Why do you want to send them out?” The paper goes on to castigate party leaders for saying the NRC is good as the burden of 40 lakh cannot be borne, as “India is not a dharamshalaa. Then why are you making India into a dharamshala?” The paper concludes that the Bill would be “political suicide for the BJP, which has ambitions in 21 of the Northeast’s 25 Lok Sabha seats.”
Siasat on January 10 started its editorial with the line, “In India now, anything can happen.” It wrote that the current government is engaged fully to implement its aims. The party pushing the Citizenship Bill in Parliament is pushing through its policies of discriminating between citizens. “It would be a sad day if this Bill is passed. This is a blatant refusal to give Muslims citizenship,” the editorial argued.
This act, is about “making the BJP’s discriminatory policies towards a section of Indians internally, so evident, by etching them into law.” The Modi government is only engaged in vote-bank politics to secure its share in power. This needs to be opposed by all sections of society. “Earlier, the BJP was already notorious for discrimination. It is now giving legal form to its vision of discrimination.”
Making of alliances
The AIMIM-mouthpiece Etemaad on January 22 wrote that the “SP-BSP unity is burning up the BJP (chiragh paa). The BJP has set the CBI on Akhilesh Yadav and its leaders are now busy making insulting statements about Mayawati. Uttar Pradesh is India’s biggest state and to get to Delhi, UP is essential.” The paper believes that the BJP is surprised that such long-term rivals, SP and BSP, have got together in UP and now political activity is very hectic.
Munsif on January 14 quotes the well-known aphorism that there are “no permanent friends or enemies” in politics and expresses delight that in her “joint press conference with Akhikesh, Mayawati termed Modi-Shah, Guru-Chela, and is out to defeat them.” She is also quoted in the editorial for saying that “as in the Phulpur and Gorukhpur byelections, we are the only force that can get together and defeat the BJP.”
Inquilab on successive days, on January 21 entitled ‘Quest for the post of PM’ and then on January 22, in different editions, entitled ‘Secular Ittehad aur BJP ki ghabraahat’ and ‘Janshakti aur Dhanshakti’ touches on a variety of things arising from the SP-BSP alliance and the Kolkata rally of several opposition parties.
On January 21, it wrote that “the PM, his party and the media is so focussed on trying to corner the opposition, with Who-will-be-the-PM, as if that is the biggest question facing the nation on this day.” It expresses surprise that the question is being raised by those considered well-educated. “All parties are pulling out all their wares to battle this situation. The BJP has more hope in the charisma of one man, rather than the awaam, or common people.” This, it argues, is the “BJP’s majboori as it knows it has met very few promises.”
Rashtriya Roznama Sahara on January 24, has an editorial on Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra’s foray into the organisational machinery of the Congress in UP. It says; “only time will tell whether it can change things.” But, it says; “it has certainly the power to enliven Congress workers all over India, with a new josh (energy)” Sahara interprets the move to bring in contenders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Priyanka into the fray as a pitch to the youth — Jawaano ab utho, ab tumhari baari hai.” The paper cites this as an important development so close to the general election, as “UP has been divided into two and two important young leaders given a big responsibility.” It speculates that; “this has put a question mark on the BJP workers’ belief so far, that it is Modi’s rallies that will result in a romp home somehow.”