Editorial analysis: Sangrur shocker; States’ GST knot & G7 rallies against China


Photo Credit Twitter Simranjit Singh Mann

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In ‘Editorial analysis’, The Raisina Hills critically reviews comments of India’s top five English newspapers – The Indian Express (IE), The Economic Times (ET), The Hindu (TH), The Times of India (ToI) and Deccan Herald (DH).

After 23 years, Simranjit Singh Mann, a Khalistan supporter, stunned the national parties by winning the Sangrur Lok Sabha elections. His victory is seen as a signal to the growing irrelevance of Punjab’s religious-regional outfit Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), and a gain for radical elements in the state.

ToI, DH and TH in their respective Edits have cautioned the national parties for the consequences of the Sangrur verdict.

“His victory, and the complete emaciation of the Congress, the SAD and the BJP, signals the dangerous crossroads Punjab is at,” commented TH, taking note of Simranjit Singh Mann being a vocal follower of Bhindranwale.

ToI tracks SAD’s “freefall”, from polling 18.4 per cent votes in the Mach state Assembly elections to 6.2 per cent in Sangrur, and reminds that Simranjit Singh Mann had the support of deceased singer Sidhu Moose Wala, whose posthumous song SYL, now blocked on YouTube, called for sovereignty, for Punjab.

DH commented that Aam Admi Party’s loss in Sangrur within three months of winning Punjab is a blow for the party, and it should serve as a wakeup call for the party.

Prakash Singh Badal had established SAD as the party of choice for the Jats in the rural Punjab with high influence in the Gurudwara politics. Now that the party’s popularity ebbs, the signal unmistakably is of the youth’s growing disenchantment with old parties.

The five years of compensation regime under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the states, from FY 2018 to FY 2022, is coming to an end, and that sets the backdrop for the 47th GST Council meeting in Chandigarh.

ET and IE have summed up the sorry tales of the states’ finances. Only five states have higher revenue growth than the protected growth of 14 per cent in the compensation regime.

The Supreme Court verdict that the Center’s recommendations aren’t binding on states has already strained the collaborative efforts in the GST Council meeting. ET advocated that petro-products and real estate be brought under GST, besides unveiling structural reforms.

The G7 Summit in Germany has reaffirmed growing urgency on the parts of the US-led western block to tighten the noose around China. The Covid-19 pandemic and Beijing’s ‘no limits friendship’ with Russia have riled up the western developed countries.

ET has commented that the resolve of the G7 to raise USD 600 billion to fund infrastructure projects in the developing countries is in counter to the ‘Belt Road Initiative’ of China.

The daily rightly notes that 40 countries have debts on their books to China in excess of 10 per cent of their GDP. This is known as deep Chinese debt-trap that Sri Lanka is currently reeling in, which also forces such countries to part with their critical assets to China on 99-year lease, as done by Colombo and Australia, besides African countries.

Indeed, G7’s bid to raise the scale is in addition to the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework committing USD 50 billion to fund infrastructure development in partner countries.

But the US-led western block is waking up only after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and is quite late in the day to counter China, for Beijing is already choking finances of many countries.

ToI in its lead Edit has called for axing the criminal defamation from the Indian Penal Code (IPC), arguing that India must shed its colonial baggage. It took note of the Bombay High Court’s Nagpur bench scoffing at the misuse of the criminal defamation provision of the IPC. Indeed, the provision has been grossly misused by the political parties and the influential people to bully the journalists.

But there are much more in the IPC, which are hangover of an orthodox and conservative British society that India’s obediently policing the citizens with at the cost of civil liberties. The Edit fails to capture the magnitude of misuse of the IPC in India.

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