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Money power, RSS ground support, dedicated cadres: How BJP won UP, according to Urdu press

ThePrint’s round-up of how the Urdu media covered various news events through the week, and the editorial positions some of them took.

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New Delhi: The final stretch of the assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, followed by the declaration of results Thursday, occupied prime space in Urdu newspapers all week.

One reason for this was that these elections were being seen as important not just for the states where they were held, but for the possible implications they could have for upcoming Rajya Sabha polls and this year’s Presidential election. The outcome of these state elections were also being watched for an indication of voter sentiments ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Meanwhile, coverage of the Russia-Ukraine war also touched upon the alleged deficiencies in the Indian education system, which forced many students to seek better opportunities abroad.

ThePrint brings you a wrap of the front page news and editorials from Urdu newspapers this week.

Also read: BJP-led NDA now rules 44% of India’s territory, and almost half its population

2022 assembly elections

On 11 March, Roznama Rashtriya Sahara carried two headlines on the assembly election results — “Lotus blooms in four states” and “The broom sweeps Punjab”. The paper also reported a statement from former Union Minister Ashwani Kumar on the Congress being reduced to a regional party.

Siasat’s lead story too reported the triumphs of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alongside Rahul Gandhi’s acceptance of the people’s mandate. In addition to the election results, Inquilab reported Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement on the results having paved the way for 2024 (parliamentary elections).

In an editorial that described the AAP victory in Punjab as “extraordinary”, Inquilab wrote that the biggest reason that the people of Punjab refused to reaffirm their faith in the Congress were the party’s internal differences. The paper wrote that multiple factors in UP including inflation, unemployment and farmers’ anger could have worked against the incumbent party, but the BJP managed to trump all that with its financial muscle, ground support of the RSS, and a dedicated cadre base.

Siasat wrote in its editorial that pre-poll analyses that had claimed that the BJP governments in Uttarakhand and Goa would be overthrown and predicted a hung house in Punjab had been proved wrong. It added that these results will bolster the BJP’s prospects, while for the opposition, not only are the results disappointing, but also yet another sign that Congress is on its deathbed.

In an earlier editorial on 8 March — a day after the last phase of voting was completed in Uttar Pradesh — Inquilab had written that of all the five states that had voted for the assembly, the results of the Uttar Pradesh elections were being most eagerly awaited. The paper wrote that the BJP too was the most anxious about the results here, because it would have bearings on the impending Presidential election, and also because it has encountered several unpalatable assembly election outcomes in the past, including in Madhya Pradesh and Goa (in 2017) — though it had eventually managed to form governments in both states.

On 6 March, Siasat wrote in its editorial that while opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Congress had tried to keep their poll pitch around issues such unemployment and inflation, the incumbent party in UP repeatedly tried to queer the pitch by using communal rhetoric.

In an editorial on 7 March, Roznama wrote that the results of the assembly elections in five states were eagerly awaited not just because they would lead to the formation of new governments  — or continuation of old ones — in these states, but also because the elections would decide the contours of the Rajya Sabha. Elections to 70 RS seats will start in April, and 19 of these are from these five states. The results will also have grave implications for the Presidential poll, said the paper.

Russia-Ukraine war

As the Russia-Ukraine war continued unabated, despite Western sanctions against the aggressor, Inquilab, in a provocative editorial titled “Ukraine can win too”, wrote on 10 March that while most Ukrainians — except for those who are close to Russia — are standing with their government, this is not the case in Russia, where strict media control and a ban on protests have ensured that internal opposition is not leaked out.

The paper asked why Russia, if it is indeed a super power, is so scared. That is why, it said, Ukraine may win even if the victory looks different.

On 6 March, Siasat carried on its front page a statement from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in which he claimed that he had continued at his station even though NATO had done nothing beyond giving the country 50 tonnes of diesel. The paper also carried a statement from the government of India, that all Indians have been evacuated from Kharkiv.

On 7 March, Roznama carried a report on its front page about prime minister Narendra Modi’s telephonic chats with both Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Noting that India had managed to evacuate not just its own citizens from the Ukranian city of Sumy, but also some from Bangladeshis and Nepalis, Roznama in its 9 March editorial, wrote that while it is not in India’s strategic interests to oppose Russia, it should try for a ceasefire to stop the mayhem.

In an editorial on 7 March titled “Why study abroad”, Inquilab wrote that had it not been for the war, many Indians would have remained ignorant about how many of their fellow citizens travel abroad for education. The paper also wrote that the real reason why so many Indians do so is not just because of the deficiencies of the past — as claimed by PM Modi, it said — but because education in India can be very expensive.

The burden of inflation

On 8 March, Roznama had a page one report on the price of crude oil reaching its highest in 13 years — $139 per barrel — in view of the Ukraine crisis. On 7 March, Inquilab carried on its front page a statement from BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy that Modi is working in a “Russian way” to destroy small and medium companies. The “racket”, the MP alleged, according to the paper, is being led by Gautam Adani.

On 9 March, Roznama carried on the front page a statement from Modi that the Indian economy is recovering fast after the impact of the Covid pandemic. There was also a story about the rise in CNG prices in Delhi NCR.

In its 9 March editorial, Siasat wrote that if despite rising fuel prices, state elections have ensured that the burden is not passed on to the common man, the government should look at continuing to do this even after the elections are over.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

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