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Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just for You

We sifted through the papers to find the best opinion reads, so you won't have to.

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The Soup Kitchen

Writing for The Indian Express, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram argues that the country is in a soup – both alphabetic and numeric.

He starts with a critique of CAA-NRC, goes on to talk about ED-CBI-IT, Electoral Bonds, 'One Nation, One Election', and finally the WhatsApp message from Viksit Bharat that has made its way into our lives (and phones) this past week.

He writes, "Thanks to the many varieties of soup, we shall go back to where it began in 2004. Achhe din aane wale hai."

"There is a new game in town. One version of the game is called join-the-alphabets. The first winner was CBI-ED. ED was miffed. ED asserted that it was the lead partner and the winner should be declared as ED-CBI. The jury is out. The judgement may be expected when the votes are counted in the Lok Sabha elections. It is rumoured in Delhi that if ED-CBI is the winner, this may be the last elections to the Lok Sabha and, if that happened, all expenditure on elections will be saved."
P Chidambaram, for The Indian Express
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Will Kejriwal in Jail Sway Voters? Not a Chance

After Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's arrest by the Enforcement Directorate in the excise policy case, Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, in his piece for The Times of India, questions whether this could spark a voter revolt. He goes on to answer it as well. "Not a chance. They see it as politics as usual."

He writes, "The public views politicians, with rare exceptions, as venal rascals."

"Politics requires money, and liquor licences are a long-established vehicle for state governments to acquire funds. Has Kejriwal done anything others haven’t? Almost certainly not. But politics has an Eleventh Commandment — Thou Shalt Not Be Caught. Those breaking that commandment must face the consequences. Is his arrest part of efforts to tarnish the image and cripple the functioning of top opposition politicians in the run-up to the general election? All major politicians arrested by enforcement and tax authorities belong to the opposition and none to the BJP. That can’t be a coincidence."
Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar, for The Times of India
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Is Indian Democracy Dead?

In her column for The Indian Express, Tavleen Singh writes that while opposition parties keep reiterating that 'democracy is dead' and that the opposition is being targeted, there "appears to be no need to weaken opposition parties who are already so enfeebled."

"It is soon going to be for the people to decide whether he (Arvind Kejriwal) was a good chief minister or a bad one. If charges of corruption are proven against him by the Enforcement Directorate, it will certainly go against him. This economic watchdog has lost a degree of credibility when it comes to politicians, because more than 85 percent of the people they have gone after, were from opposition parties. BJP spokesmen, when questioned about this, say that this is because nobody in the BJP is corrupt."
Tavleen Singh, for The Indian Express
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Don’t Be in Haste To Curtail Parliamentary Privileges

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari, in his piece for for The Asian Age, writes that the Supreme Court's verdict in the Sita Soren case – which "held that legislators are not protected by parliamentary privilege insofar as prosecution on charges of bribery is concerned" – has the potential of being abused.

He argues in favour of Parliamentary privileges saying that the impunity safeguards minority members in the House from being harassed or unlawfully targeted, and that it's crucial "to enable members to speak their minds."

"Until recently, the sanctity of parliamentary proceedings provided legislators with a safe haven to express their concerns without the Damocles’ sword of executive reprisal. However, the spectre of portentous constitutionalism looms large which the court in Sita Soren ought to have taken into consideration."
Manish Tewari, for The Asian Age
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Baba Faces a Legacy Crisis From the Judiciary

In his weekly column for The New Indian Express, Ravi Shankar writes about the Supreme Court's verdict in the Patanjali case – where the top court chided the company for its misleading and false advertisements – and quips that "Baba Ramdev seems to have run out of asanas to escape the Supreme Court’s wrath."

"For a child of illiterate Haryanvi farmers, he (Baba Ramdev) is the Hindu icon of cultural commerce. Faced with the biggest legal challenge to his career, what will be the enduring image? India’s omnipotent prime minister bowing to him, or his products being taken off the shelves as he runs for legal cover?"
Ravi Shankar, for The New Indian Express
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With Oppn Vocal for Local, BJP Should Think Supra-National

Writing for The Times of India, former Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta argues that while the Opposition parties would "would strive to fragment" the upcoming Lok Sabha election on local issues, the key to "400-paar" for the Bharatiya Janata Party is "elevating the election to a complete pan-Indian affair and presenting Modi as the candidate in all the 543 constituencies."

"For the ruling BJP on the other hand, the main appeal is national. It isn’t in BJP’s interest, for example, to fight Mamata Banerjee’s party on purely local issues. To get the incremental vote that national parties have always secured in Lok Sabha elections, BJP must keep its narrative completely Modi-centric."
Swapan Dasgupta, for The Times of India
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When Kandhamal Cast a Shadow Over BJD-BJP Ties

After the 2008 Kandhamal riots and widespread violence against Christians in Odisha, Karan Thapar had interviewed Biju Janata Dal chief Naveen Patnaik.

In his piece, this week, for Hindustan Times, he revisits his conversation with Patnaik to find out the answer to one question. "Having broken with the BJP and done so well thereafter, why was Patnaik thinking of returning?"

"Every bone in my body is secular and I don’t think that any of those bones have been damaged (...) It was important to break with the BJP because I don’t consider them any longer healthy for my state."
Karan Thapar quoting Naveen Patnaik from an older interview, for Hindustan Times
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Women Are Leading the Fight Against TB

On World Tuberculosis Day, Lalita Panicker writes for Hindustan Times about the discrimination and stigma that women face as TB patients. She points out that while women are expected to become caregivers if anyone in their family gets diagnosed with TB, their own health concerns are, more often than not, not even tertiary concerns.

"Awareness and early treatment are even more vital given that women and girls make up nearly one million of the estimated 2.8 million TB cases in India each year. It is the fifth leading cause of death among women in the country, accounting for nearly 5 percent of fatalities in women aged 30-69. India contributes 20.6 percent of the global burden of all active TB cases among pregnant women. Up to 40,000 pregnant women are likely to suffer from active TB in India annually."
Lalita Panicker, for Hindustan Times
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Veg Only Delivery? It’s Not Just About Dietary Preference. It’s How Caste Works, Too

In her piece for Hindustan Times, Shivani Kapoor writes about the "Pure Veg Fleet" rolled-out and then partially rolled-back by Zomato.

She says, "While they are often encoded as concerns of hygiene, sanitation, or even personal preference, in fact, casteist norms of purity and pollution often lie at the heart of these practices."

"Food, being deeply sensorial in nature, is an important vantage from which to understand caste discrimination and segregation. The smell of food, in particular meat and fish, has often been the point of contention. Odours are not just physical phenomena but carry with them meanings and values. In the Indian context, this meaning is often framed through the distancing practices of caste."
Shivani Kapoor, for Hindustan Times
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