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Journalism of Courage

From the Urdu Press: Of Karnataka bulldozer model, shrinking Parliament space for Opposition, soaring ED and failing startups

‘Reeling under price rise, the condition of the poor and lower middle class sections seems like the plight of a bird which cannot fly. It has trussed up the wings of their hopes and aspirations… And they don’t have employment opportunities too. This is a double whammy for common people, which must be urgently debated in the House,’ the daily Inquilab writes

Suspended Congress MPs Manickam Tagore, Jothimani, Ramya Haridas and TN Prathapan stage a protest at Parliament House during ongoing Monsoon Session, in New Delhi, Thursday, July 28, 2022. (PTI Photo)

Flagging the usual cycle of disruptions and washout amid the government-Opposition bad blood that has broadly marked the Monsoon Session of Parliament, the Urdu press castigated the suspension of a slew of the Opposition MPs from the two Houses last week, lamenting the declining space for dissent in Indian democracy’s apex deliberative and participatory forum. While capturing the dramatic scenes playing out in the Houses and outside, such as Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s controversial reference to President Droupadi Murmu and the Sonia Gandhi-Smriti Irani showdown or the 50-hour relay protest by suspended Rajya Sabha MPs in the shadow of the iconic Mahatma Gandhi statue, the leading Urdu dailies questioned why Parliament could not urgently debate the two biggest issues impacting the lives of the common people of the country — price rise and unemployment. They also expressed outrage over the Basavaraj Bommai-led BJP government’s public declaration seeking the adoption of the “Yogi model” and bulldozer politics for governance in Karnataka, calling it “open threats to minorities” and a drifting government’s desperate bid for survival through polarisation at the expense of the rule of law and due process.


Commenting on the row between the Narendra Modi-led BJP government and the Opposition in both Houses of Parliament, which involved disruptions, adjournments and the suspension of the Opposition MPs, the New Delhi edition of Inquilab, in its leader on July 29, writes that price rise and unemployment are major public issues that should have been discussed in Parliament just after the start of the Monsoon Session on July 18. Such a debate is essential as the government needs to explain the “real reasons” behind the twin menaces, which have been raging prior to the Russia-Ukraine war and the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, and to spell out its action plan to tackle them, it says adding that the government should bring a “white paper” on them.

“The government is however turning a blind eye to the importance of these burning issues and is treating a discussion on them as a burden, and so it took the position that it would be ready for a debate (on price rise) once finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman recovers (from Covid) and returns to Parliament,” the editorial notes. The Opposition pressed for a discussion insisting that it is a major issue troubling every citizen that must be debated immediately, and pressed ahead with their protests. With the government deciding to crack down on them, 4 Opposition MPs in the Lok Sabha and a record number of MPs (altogether 23) in the Rajya Sabha were suspended by their respective presiding officers. “Such action betrays the jitteriness of the government on these vital issues that was reflected by the drastic action against the Opposition MPs,” it says.

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The daily points out that Parliament has often witnessed a situation where in the absence of any minister concerned one of his ministerial colleagues has replied to a debate, thus avoiding its deferment. “Clearly, the government wants to defer a discussion on these issues as long as it can. The distressed people are looking for relief, though. Reeling under price rise, the condition of the poor and lower middle class sections seems like the plight of a bird which cannot fly. It has trussed up the wings of their hopes and aspirations… And they don’t have employment opportunities too. This is a double whammy for common people which must be urgently debated in the House.”


In its editorial, “Karnataka mein hukumat ki dhamkiyan (threats by the government in Karnataka)” on July 30, the Hyderabad-based daily Siasat writes that the BJP dispensation in Karnataka, the party’s sole government in South India, does not seem to have any model or programme of its own and has “failed” in governance, especially under the leadership of Basavaraj Bommai who replaced B S Yediurappa as the Chief Minister a year ago. “And now that the Assembly elections are round the corner, Chief Minister and his cabinet colleague are issuing open threats to the people, particularly those belonging to the minorities. Such threats were known to be given by law-breakers and anti-social elements earlier,” it states, referring to Bommai’s statement following backlash from the Sangh Parivar cadre over the murder of party worker Praveen Nettaru in the coastal Dakshina Kannada district that he is ready to adopt the “Yogi model” if the situation demands it. “By making a reference to UP CM, Bommai has sought to threaten Muslims and other minority communities, he has also tried to signal that the state government will not hesitate in suppressing Muslims,” the edit says. In a similar vein, his higher education minister C N Ashwathnarayan has upped the ante by announcing that the Karnataka government would “go five steps ahead of UP government” and is “ready to even carry out encounters”, it says, adding that such pronouncements are a clear attempt to cock a snook at the rule of law.

“The BJP government has not done any work for the welfare and prosperity of people so far, it has only promoted Hindu-Muslim politics based on contentious and divisive issues under the impression that it can sustain this southern government by stoking communal rows over issues like hijab, halal, or by making inflammatory speeches,” the daily charges. “The BJP estimates that maintaining its hold over Karnataka government by any means is essential for its expansionist goals in South India, for which it has now zeroed in on Telangana,” it says, adding that the saffron party reckons that if it loses Karnataka it would have a fallout for its prospects in Telangana too.

Roznama Rashtriya Sahara

The multi-edition daily Roznama Rashtriya Sahara, in its editorial on July 29 headlined “Enforcement Directorate”, writes on the Supreme Court judgment upholding the constitutional validity of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002, and the sweeping powers of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) regarding arrest, search, attachment and seizure in money laundering offences. The three-judge Bench, headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar, declared statements made before the EC officers admissible in court while also putting the onus on the accused to prove their innocence. The editorial says various law-enforcement and investigative central agencies play a crucial role in maintaining the rule of law and governance. These agencies have however come under a cloud in recent years amid allegations that they have been reduced to mere “tools” in the hands of the central dispensation for selectively targeting their political opponents, it states. “The Opposition has been crying foul that the government has made these agencies its puppets in the last eight years, which have been implementing the law of rulers rather than the rule of law and keeping their focus trained on Opposition leaders and non-BJP-ruled states… This situation undermines democracy and federalism in the country and is also not good for the health of these agencies.”


The daily points out that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) used to remain in the limelight earlier but after many states refused permission for its investigations the ED has risen now. The apex court’s judgment upholding the stringent PMLA and strengthening the ED has been criticised by the Opposition which fears an escalation of its targeting of their leaders, the edit says, adding that their apprehensions are not unfounded. It points out that the ED has registered 5,422 cases under the PMLA since 2005 when the Act came into force, of which the agency has been able to file chargesheets in 992 cases and succeeded in securing conviction of only 23 accused. “Interestingly, half of these cases have been lodged in the last eight years with 95 per cent of the accused belonging to the Opposition camp….This is strange that during this period the agency could not find any leader belonging to the ruling camp who might have

committed an economic offence. This reinforces the suspicions that the ED is being used by the government for its political purpose,” it says. “It is now up to the ED to restore its professional character and reputation rather than allow itself to be just an ‘Operation Lotus’ instrument.”

Urdu Times

As a “brutal” funding winter sets in on India’s startup companies resulting in a surge in their layoffs, an editorial page column in the Mumbai-based daily Urdu Times on July 26 says that the “startup bubble seems to be bursting as the hype surrounding them is not translating into reality”. It states that most of the startups have failed in the last few years that encompass a wide range of companies from various sectors including information technology, food delivery, hotel industry, e-commerce, finance, social media platform, FMCG, ready-made food, education and logistics. “Our startup discourse had been based on exaggerations and inflated figures, even as the predictions for their triumph were not based on hard facts,” the column, “Aajkal (Nowadays)” by Nadeem Abdul Qadeer, says, adding that even the startup unicorns like the ride-hailing app Ola and the food-delivery platform Zomato have been struggling to make profits years after they came into existence. “Last year when Zomato entered the stock market it was listed at about Rs 120 per share, which has now plummeted to its half price,” it says. The takeaway from the startup saga is the point that “10 per cent of such companies who achieve success corner the limelight so much that the remaining 90 per cent become invisible in their blinding lustre, leading to an easy, sweeping generalisation about the success of all startups”, it writes, adding that the sobering situation also reflects on the Modi government’s schemes like “Make in India” and “Startup India” whose “success seems to have remained mainly confined to government advertisements”.

First published on: 02-08-2022 at 04:47:47 pm
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