QBullet: Softer Hindutva for Bengal, Cong Sting Op on AAP and More

Read the top news and views across publications this morning on QBullet. 

Updated
India
5 min read
The BJP plans to highlight regional leaders for the upcoming polls in Bengal. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>)

1. BJP’s Bengal Push: Less of Modi, ‘Softer’ Hindutva

After its rout in Bihar, the BJP has a different strategy for West Bengal. According to The Indian Express, the party will refrain from negative campaigning and focus only on what the party aims to bring if voted to power. The report also says that the BJP will concentrate on highlighting local leaders and the prime minister and BJP President Amit Shah will do fewer rallies.

The campaign will, however, still have some elements of earlier ones by the BJP. The BJP will be vocal about the Trinamool Congress government’s “appeasement policies” for Muslims. The prime minister will visit Gaudiya Math for its centenary celebrations in Kolkata on February 21, and the party hopes this will send the “right” signals to the Hindus in the state. 

Read the full report here.

2. US Shares Headley’s Phone Details With NIA

The Hindu reports that the National Investigating Agency (NIA) has received details of the phone that was used by David Headley in the days before the 26/11 attack. The report says this phone was used by Headley to take videos of possible targets of the attack. Despite being granted a pardon, Headley is still an accused in the case being probed by the NIA.

According to the charge sheet filed by the NIA, “Before a crucial meeting in Rawalpindi (December 2007), Major Iqbal had given Headley a Sony Ericsson mobile phone with camera for carrying out clandestine photography/videography in India for future attacks.” The handset was in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It was seized when Headley was arrested at the Chicago airport in November 2009.

On the second day of his deposition, Headley revealed that LeT had asked him to film Mumbai’s famed Siddhivinayak temple and also planned an attack on of India’s defence establishments.

Read the full report here.

Also read: On Day 2, Headley Reveals ISI, LeT, Pak Army Behind 26/11 Attack

3. Congress Sting Op Targets AAP MLA, Party Dismisses Graft Claims

Congress demanded immediate resignation of Aam Aadmi Party Minister Imran Hussain, alleging that a sting operation has revealed that he sought bribe.

A person on behalf of Hussain allegedly demanded Rs 30 lakh bribe for regularising an illegal construction in Ballimaran area of north Delhi. The AAP minister, who represents Ballimaran in the Assembly, denied the charges as “baseless”.

Read the full story on The Quint.

4. Move Over Syndicates, Mangal, The ‘Good Samaritan’ Is Here!

The Telegraph met with Mangal Panja, who is accused of running a syndicate in Kolkata. But his version of the story is that “he helps people build homes”. He has also said that he is a good Samaritan and a founding supporter of the ruling Trinamool Congress.

But a litigation in the courts has now brought him the kind of attention, that Panja would rather avoid. The report says,

In case fans of Mario Puzo of The Godfather fame are wondering, Panja did not say he makes them an offer they can’t refuse. For the yeoman service of helping people build homes, Panja has been blessed amply with the most priceless reward of them all: people’s love. “I don’t even have a car.... But people love me and give me their vehicles whenever I need,” Panja said. The 39-year-old “do-gooder”, weighing no less than 90kg and complaining of a host of ailments, did not explain why Mohammed Ismile, the promoter who filed the petition, is not among his legion of admirers.

Read the full story here.

5. Talks in Limbo, Pakistan Flirts With J&K Separatists

Abdul Basit, Pakistan High Commissioner. (Photo: PTI)
Abdul Basit, Pakistan High Commissioner. (Photo: PTI)

According to The Times of India, Pakistan has said that whenever the Foreign Secretary-level talks take place, Kashmir will be on top of its agenda. Meeting Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit reportedly reaffirmed the separatists of their commitment to the Kashmir issue.

Basit had expressed the same sentiment before moderate Hurriyat member Mirwaiz Umar Farooq when he met him at the high commission on Monday evening. Farooq said after the meeting that Basit had also assured him that the Gilgit-Baltistan region would continue to be a part of the state.

Read the full report here.

6. The Notion That Sabarimala Temple Is Anti-Women Is False

Sabarimala temple in Kerala. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)
Sabarimala temple in Kerala. (Photo Courtesy: The News Minute)

The Hindustan Times has an opinion piece that offers an alternate argument to the anti-women label on the Sabarimala temple. The piece delves into the history of the temple and tries to provide a convincing argument to explain the rituals of the temple. It does not, however, address the questions that have led to a political storm in the past few weeks.

The notion that Sabarimala is anti-women is a false one. Every year thousands of women visit the temple. The regulation is only for women between the age group of 10 and 50. Girls below the age of 10 and women above 50 have no restrictions.

7. Chandy’s Crossed All Limits, Modi’s Broken Promises; the Left Offers Real Options to India: Brinda Karat

In an interview to The Times of India, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat talks about increasing campus clashes, the Left’s views on modernity and grand alliances. Karat also addresses Kerala CM Chandy’s involvement in the solar panel scam and ranks Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s performance so far.

He gets an A for broken promises, from control of prices to security for women – you name the electoral promise and match it with reality.

Read the full interview here.

8. Discrimination Dialogue

In The Indian Express, Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes why the HRD Ministry’s attempt to have a dialogue with universities on the discrimination issue, could be quite challenging. He writes that in the process, neither the ministry nor the institutions must make the mistake of underestimating the deepening alienation that even a well-meaning dialogue between “self-aware protagonists” can cause.

The caste dialogue has become more difficult for a number of reasons. We have simply not fully acknowledged the sheer atrocity that the caste-system has been, especially for Dalits. There is still a defensiveness that creeps into discussions: “The reality was more nuanced”, “caste is more complicated”. But all said and done, it was and remains an atrocity. The sincerity of our acknowledgement of it as an atrocity remains in doubt, impeding any understanding. 

Read the full piece here.

9. Internet Power to the People

An opinion piece in The Hindu analyses the global impact that TRAI’s ruling on differential pricing has had.

What makes this “victory” even more surprising was the complete asymmetry of the two sides involved. On one side was Facebook, a company whose market cap is greater than the GDPs of 144 countries, allied with a bunch of big telecom companies (telcos). They had already “won” easy victories for their platform in a number of countries, and felt India would be no exception. They had an ad campaign that estimates put at Rs.400 crore. On the other side was a motley group of free software and Internet activists, with unlikely allies such as comedy group AIB, a bunch of start-ups, and some political figures and formations.

Read the full piece here.

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