As the polling for the Presidential election concluded, the stage was set for the ruling BJP-led NDA’s candidate Droupadi Murmu to become the first tribal President of India. Battle lines were also drawn for the upcoming Vice Presidential poll, with the joint Opposition pitting Congress veteran Margaret Alva against the NDA’s pick Jagdeep Dhankhar. Meanwhile, the Monsoon Session of Parliament got underway on the expected stormy note, with both the government and the Opposition bracing for a bristling, protracted showdown. The Urdu dailies were packed with these reports even as they unpicked their different strands and multiple layers to give their readers perspectives too.
In its first leader on July 17, the Hyderabad-based daily Siasat writes that India has witnessed a shift in governments’ priorities over the last few years, with some dispensations now rolling out various relief and welfare measures for the people, who are appreciating the same. It has often been the case that governments have gone out of their ways to ensure ease of doing business for corporates and industrial houses — especially players who provide funds for their parties — giving lands for their industrial units, providing them with power and water at concessional rates, making news laws or rules for them, and even letting them pile more burdens on public, the daily states, adding that some changes have however been observed in the situation in recent years.
“Although the trend of offering sops and concessions to industrialists has intensified, some ruling parties have now also come out to provide some relief in various forms to the public in their states, which include measures such as free electricity and water up to certain levels, pension for widows and elderly women, free bus rides for women, upgrading of facilities and standards in government schools and hospitals, scholarship for foreign education and setting up of skill training centres for youth,” the editorial says, claiming that the BJP has often raised objections to such freebies. “And now Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself taken exception to these measures, calling it ‘revdi (sweets) culture’ and claiming that it is dangerous for the development of the country,” it states. “The reality is that if people get relief and live contented lives, this would rather stabilise things and ensure faster development. Crony capitalism is affecting development. Corporates have been given loans worth thousands of crores, but instead of paying them back some businessmen are fleeing the country. Instead of Indians’ black money returning to the country, the public money is being transferred overseas. A select band of corporates and industrialists is being handed out public assets ranging from airports to railways, telecommunication to ports.”
Describing the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP as a “leading party dedicated to providing relief to public”, the daily cites the example of Delhi, listing various freebies and welfare measures taken by the party’s government. “Rather than objecting to the politics of welfarism, the need of the hour is to actually promote and boost it,” it claims.
In its editorial on July 17, headlined “‘Gair parlimaani alfaaz’ ka tanaza (Row over unparliamentary words)”, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab writes that Parliament is a hallowed institution in a democracy where public representatives discuss issues relating to people’s problems and concerns besides making laws. In the course of such debates, the Treasury and Opposition benches target each other and engage in heated verbal duels. As a matter of principle, coarse language should not be used as even trenchant criticism can be made in decent words, the daily says. “This used to be the parliamentary tradition prior to the decline in its standards. The MPs used to make sharp criticism eloquently in a civil manner without furrowing their intended target’s forehead,” it states. Referring to the compilation of unparliamentary terms in a new booklet issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat, it concedes that such compilations have been done by Parliament and Assemblies earlier too, but highlights that the addition of unparliamentary words and expressions in the updated booklet is “patently excessive”, pointing out that many of them have been part of our daily spoken language.
“It is incomprehensible what is objectionable in words like ‘dhindora peetna’, ‘ghadiyali aansu’, ‘drama’, ‘bahri sarkar’, ‘eyewash’, ‘corrupt’, ‘lie’, ‘incompetent’, ‘untrue’, ‘mislead’, ‘coward’, and ‘criminal’? Many other terms like these are now part of the new list of unparliamentary words,” the edit says. It notes that following the blowback from the Opposition, which slammed the list as a “gag order” meant to shield the Modi government against “criticism and hard-hitting truth”, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla clarified that such words and phrases had not been banned and that the decision to expunge words is the prerogative of the presiding officer of the House. “This clarification is however not convincing. Expunging such words from the records would be tantamount to striking off key words from a meaningful line. If Parliament is debating corruption, then what should a member call corrupt people or officials. Terming them as merely ‘not honest’ would barely serve the purpose. One could only wish that the Lok Sabha Secretariat’s booklet would also have listed the alternative parliamentary terms for those words and expressions deemed unparliamentary!”
Roznama Rashtriya Sahara
Commenting on the August 6 Vice Presidential election, the multi-edition daily Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, in an editorial on July 18, states that like the case of the Presidential election, the ruling NDA and the joint Opposition could not work out a consensus with regard to picking a nominee for the Vice Presidential poll. It points out that after having fielded Droupadi Murmu and Yashwant Sinha as their respective Presidential nominees, the Modi dispensation and the Opposition have now nominated Jagdeep Dhankhar and Margaret Alva as their Vice Presidential candidates, respectively. It says there are some commonalities in both camp’s selection of these candidates though. “Both sides have fielded one woman candidate. Also, while Dhankhar is West Bengal Governor, Alva had been a Governor of states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Goa,” it says. Noting that by naming a tribal woman leader from Odisha, Murmu, the ex-Jharkhand Governor, as its Presidential face, the Modi camp succeeded in splintering the Opposition, getting parties like the Biju Janata Dal, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena on board. The daily writes that Murmu’s candidature even forced the Trinamool Congress (TMC) to adopt a curious position, which saw Sinha despite having been its erstwhile leader skipping his campaign in the party-ruled West Bengal. “This is the art of politics and its myriad colours, where nothing is what appears on the surface, and where there could never be any certainties,” it says.
The Mumbai-based daily Urdu Times, in its editorial on July 15, writes on the BJP’s bid to gun for ex-Vice President Hamid Ansari in the run-up to the Vice Presidential election. It refers to the BJP’s allegations quoting media reports on claims of a Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza that he had visited India on the invitation by then V-P Ansari and later shared the information gathered during the visit with Pakistan’s ISI. Flagging the curious timing of the ruling party’s assault on Ansari, it asks “whether the plot against Ansari is aimed at blocking the entry of any Muslim candidate in the V-P poll fray”, even as it highlights the name of senior BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi as one of the aspirants for the V-P’s post. (The BJP named Dhankhar as the NDA’s V-P candidate on 16 July.)
The daily refers to Ansari’s rebuttal of the saffron party’s slurs. Dismissing the charges levelled by the BJP’s national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia as a “litany of falsehood”, the former two-time V-P stated that “It is a known fact that invitations to foreign dignitaries by the Vice President of India are on the advice of the Government, generally through the Ministry of External Affairs… I never invited him (Mirza) or met him.”
“Despite these facts, the BJP’s move to open a front against Hamid Ansari on the basis of a Pakistani journalist’s absurd and unsubstantiated claims in a bid to brand him as a traitor is unacceptable,” the daily says. “In recent years dozens of people, including military personnel, have been arrested for espionage. In 2017, a member of the Madhya Pradesh BJP’s IT cell was among those arrested by the state ATS on charges of spying for Pakistan. The BJP never held any press conference then,” it states. Asserting that Muslims have discharged their duties for the country in various high offices with unimpeachable integrity and loyalty, the edit says that “They don’t need to explain their loyalty for the country. The BJP spokesperson, however, now needs to explain the crisis gripping the Indian economy in the form of dipping GDP, rising inflation and falling Rupee against the US dollar.”