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Journalism of Courage

From the Urdu Press: Modi powering BJP’s Gujarat bid to Rahul 2.0 in the making to Kashmir Files flare-up

The BJP’s plank in the Gujarat Assembly polls was not about work during its long stint at the helm — the party shied away from presenting an account of its track record to the people, writes Siasat.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being garlanded during a public meeting ahead of the second phase of Gujarat Assembly elections, in Ahmedabad, December 2, 2022. (PTI)
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Two stories dominated the Urdu Press over the week: the Gujarat Assembly polls and Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. In Gujarat, not surprisingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remained the incumbent BJP’s election mascot leading its campaign from the front, with leading Urdu dailies underlining that despite ruling the state for 27 years the party had to seek votes only in Modi’s name. They also continued to chart the progress of Rahul’s Yatra traversing the Hindi heartland now, which is currently in Rajasthan, sensing in his journey and outreach the emergence of a new Rahul with a fresh agenda and purpose who, by his own admission, has jettisoned his past baggage.


In its editorial on November 29, the Hyderabad-based Siasat focuses on the ruling BJP’s campaign in the Gujarat Assembly elections, where this time it has faced two challengers, the principal Opposition Congress and the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Noting that Gujarat is the home state of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the daily points out that it has been the saffron party’s impregnable citadel for three decades. “The BJP has been ruling Gujarat for the last 27 years marked with the tenures of several chief ministers. Narendra Modi himself had been the CM for a long period. He was succeeded as the CM by Anandiben Patel, followed by Vijay Rupani and now someone else (Bhupendra Patel),” the daily says. “And yet the BJP’s plank in this Assembly election is not about the party’s work during its long stint at the helm… The incumbent party has shied away from presenting a detailed account of its performance and achievements to the people — on parameters such as how it has changed the face of Gujarat, to what degree it has eliminated poverty in the state, how much employment it has generated for the youth, what measures its governments have taken for the welfare and empowerment of women,” it states.

On the Gujarat campaign trail, the editorial says, the BJP leaders, including the party’s leading lights, continued to raise contentious, divisive and polarising issues, which would never enable people to evaluate the real performance of a government. “In a bid to extract electoral mileage, they have sometimes pitched for the Uniform Civil Code, and on other occasions raked up the 2002 riots in terms of a lesson taught,” it notes.

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The daily says that in times of elections it is incumbent on any ruling party in any state to make a full disclosure to the electorate about its track record and performance — spotlighting how far its could fulfil the pledges it had made to clinch the previous election — besides presenting its agenda for future. “Such an agenda has to reflect real public issues and concerns based on plans and programmes that could provide them relief and ensure their welfare and progress,” the edit says, adding that this key theme was lacking in the BJP’s poll pitch with the saffron party fighting shy of addressing issues of unemployment or price rise or quality education again.


Pointing out that Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra has traversed a distance of more than 2,000 kilometres in over 80 days, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab, in its editorial on December 2, writes that the Yatra which began from Kanyakumari on September 7 has made a resonance among people in every state so far as it is headed to Kashmir. “Striking a conversation with people on vital issues while covering about 22 kms daily, the Yatra is taking national politics in a new direction… If its growing popularity could effect a change in the country’s prevailing politics centred just on electoral battles and marked with lies, false claims, hollow slogans, hate, deception and betrayal, that would usher in a new political paradigm bonded with the people on the ground and their real issues,” it says.

The daily writes that Rahul has maintained that his Yatra’s objective is “not politics but uniting people of the country and listening to them”. “Rahul’s Yatra is about reminding the people about the idea of India since time immemorial — that India has always been a uniquely diverse, pluralistic country where all kinds of people have lived together in peace and harmony,” it says, noting that the march has been championing the cause of “love, unity, justice, non-discrimination and the country’s syncretic Ganga-Jamuni culture”, which, it adds, is a “powerful response to the dominant politics of hate” that has been threatening to destroy the country.


“Rahul has said his Yatra is not about the Congress, elections, or uniting the Opposition against the ruling BJP dispensation,” the edit says, referring to the Congress leader’s response to a reporter’s question at a press conference that “I let go of Rahul Gandhi years ago. Rahul Gandhi is in your mind, not mine”. It states that his cross-country march has made an impact on the political discourse and that its messages are getting “more meaningful and effective” with each passing day along its long trajectory.


Commenting on the row following Israeli filmmaker Nadav Lapid’s criticism of Vivek Agnihotri’s The Kashmir Files, the multi-edition Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, in its editorial on December 2, points out that Lapid, who was the jury chief at the recently-concluded International Film Festival of India (IFFI), described the film as “vulgar” and “propaganda” openly from the stage of the event in Goa in the presence of several dignitaries including Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur. It notes that Lapid also said the film did not deserve to be included in the competition section of the prestigious government-organised event, attributing this inclusion to “political pressure” despite its “fascist features”.

The daily writes that Lapid has made an artistic critique of The Kashmir Files as an independent artist, but he drew fire for it from multiple quarters, from India to Israel, with the Israeli ambassador to New Delhi also targeting him. It points out that the film based on the tragedy of “exodus and killings” of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley in the 1990s following the onset of militancy was given patronage by the ruling BJP and granted tax-free status in several BJP-ruled states despite being controversial and inflammatory.


“Despite coming under multi-pronged attacks, Lapid did not backtrack and rather doubled down on his criticism of the film, which actually echo the reviews and charges made by several film critics. Some people may differ with Lapid’s take on the movie, but the intimidation and threats given to him and the formidable forces that got ranged against the filmmaker could not be justified,” the editorial says, adding that “The government, which is itself responsible for this row by ensuring the inclusion of The Kashmir Files in the IFFI’s competition section, should now welcome an artist’s right to air his views freely and frankly.”

First published on: 06-12-2022 at 14:07 IST
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