Mapping Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra and decoding his political opponents’ moves to target it, the Urdu Press flagged the Supreme Court’s observations while granting bail to Siddique Kappan and the cloud over the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal.
Commenting on Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, the Hyderabad-based Siasat, in its editorial on September 11, says that while the avowed objective of this Yatra is to unite the country and neutralise the prevailing atmosphere of hate, with a section of civil society also ready to join it, the BJP and the RSS are gunning for Rahul, who has always been their “favourite target”. The saffron camp is now bent on shifting the discourse from the Yatra’s agenda to Rahul’s clothes, it says, adding that Union home minister Amit Shah and the BJP have alleged that Rahul was undertaking the march in a Rs 41,000 T-shirt. “It is another matter that despite proclaiming himself a fakir, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had once worn a suit worth Rs 10 lakh…The BJP is thus trying to build up a row to deflect attention from real issues and problems that the Yatra intends to flag.”
It is irrelevant who has taken out the march, the daily says, adding that what matters is the point that the Yatra seeks to champion the cause of fostering communal harmony in the country. “The BJP has always sought to divert public attention from basic issues. It does not want to discuss its poll pledges. It does not answer why it could not control runaway inflation or why it could not provide two crore jobs annually as promised, or why it could not bring back Indians’ black money from overseas. Instead, rows over issues like halal, hijab, triple talaq etc. are stoked. The BJP needs to take up people’s real, fundamental problems for discussion and accept constructive proposals for their resolution with magnanimity.”
In another editorial, published on September 10, Siasat writes on the Kerala journalist Siddique Kappan’s bail, stating that finally the Supreme Court granted bail to Kappan, who had been in jail for nearly two years after being booked by the UP Police under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Although the police had filed a chargesheet against him before a UP court, the case against him is still not clear, the daily says, adding that Kappan’s “only fault” was that he tried to report on the rape-murder of a Dalit girl whose body was hurriedly cremated in the middle of the night under police watch, which had sparked outrage across the nation. “Several leaders had visited Hathras, some of whom were stopped from reaching there. Several journalists had reported on the incident. Kappan was also heading to Hathras to cover it but was intercepted by the police on his way. He was slapped with draconian charges and sent to prison where he had been languishing without bail so far.”
Granting him bail, the apex court said “every person has a right to free expression”, the daily says. The Centre and the investigative agencies should take note of it as a slew of government’s opponents and dissenters have been intimidated or sent to jail under grave charges like sedition, it says. However, despite the courts’ scrutiny and censure in many cases, the government and its agencies have continued to ignore them, making moves to ensure that the accused remain incarcerated without bail, it states.
ROZNAMA RASHTRIYA SAHARA
In its editorial on September 8, headlined “Bengal mein Badunwani (Corruption in Bengal)”, the multi-edition Roznama Rashtriya Sahara writes that a spate of alleged scams against the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC)’s leaders and ministers have surfaced, hemming in Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee and tarnishing the party’s profile. As central agencies have zeroed in on them with alacrity, the TMC’s public image has taken a severe beating despite Mamata’s efforts to salvage it, the daily says. After the arrests of ex-minister Partha Chatterjee (by the ED in the school jobs scam), party strongman Anubrata Mondal (by the CBI in a cattle smuggling case), law minister Moloy Ghatak has become the latest TMC leader to have been raided by the CBI over a multi-crore coal smuggling case, it states. Several TMC leaders, including the party’s national general secretary and Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee and his wife Rujira Banerjee, have also been on the radar of the central agencies over the coal scam, it notes. “Besides, allegations are surfacing against other TMC leaders over various scams, and going by the central agencies’ speed, there are signs that it is just a matter of time when more TMC leaders are arrested.”
Although it is true that corruption and irregularities are not a new thing in Bengal, their frequency and scale since 2011, when the TMC first came to power after storming the 34-year CPI(M)-led Left bastion, have been unprecedented, the editorial notes. From the mega Saradha chit fund scam to the Narada sting case and other scandals, several senior TMC faces have been allegedly implicated in them, including Mukul Roy, Sudip Bandyopadhyay, Kunal Ghosh, Tapas Paul, among others, it says, adding that a petition has also been filed in the high court against the “unaccounted assets” of Mamata’s relatives. “A string of such cases and arrests amid recovery of mountains of cash is eroding the TMC’s support among the masses, even as dissenting views against it have also started coming from within the party, such as the criticism made by Rajya Sabha MP and ex-IAS officer Jawhar Sircar.”
The TMC may not be the only party that has been under a cloud since many leaders from other parties have been facing serious corruption charges too, the edit notes. “But efforts are usually made to oust such leaders rather than continue patronising them. But instead of launching internal reforms and cleansing, the TMC leadership has resorted to whataboutery, levelling accusations at the central agencies and pointing to scams linked to other parties’ regimes. By doing so, one’s stains are not washed. It would be better for the TMC leadership to show its tainted leaders the door lest they break the spell of Mamata Banerjee’s popularity among the people of Bengal.”
Commenting on Union home minister and top BJP leader Amit Shah’s visit to Mumbai, Urdu Times, in its editorial on September 6, points out that Shah sounded the bugle for the coming Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, setting an ambitious target of 150 seats for his party out of the total 227 BMC seats, aiming to bring an end to the three-decade rule of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena in the BMC in what he called would be the saffron party’s “Mission Mumbai”. Shah called the rebel Sena faction led by Chief Minister Eknath Shinde the “real Sena”, the Mumbai-based daily notes, stating that in the course of his politically-significant visit during the Ganpati festival, he visited Lalbaugcha Raja and other pandals for Ganesh darshan besides interacting with Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and addressing party leaders and workers.
With the BJP being at the helm of the Maharashtra government that it formed with Shinde after toppling the previous Uddhav-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government a couple of months ago, the editorial says: “The BJP has always dreamt of capturing the BMC, and now it feels that its dream is set to come true. The party is going to put its everything into the mission to achieve this goal. If the Opposition (MVA) does not show sagacity it would only pave the way for the BJP’s bid to clinch the BMC.” Referring to the 2020 Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation polls, in which the BJP’s seat tally jumped to 48 from 4, it says the party’s previous tally in the BMC already stood at 82 seats, which could make the leap to its 150-seat target easier with Prime Minister Modi yet to launch his campaign. “The Mumbai people are set to settle the question whether they would give the mandate in the polls to the BMC, Asia’s richest civic body, to the country’s richest party BJP or not.”