By Ankita Pandey , Source : The Hoot
Among the five states going for elections, Uttar Pradesh (UP) has captured disproportionate attention. This is partly because elections are being organized in seven phases (between February 11, 2017 and March 8, 2017) and partly because the UP election is being seen as a key determinant of the outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. This article analyses the coverage of the first two phases of the election (February 11 and 15)in the Lucknow editions of two leading national Hindi dailies – Amar Ujala (Ujala) and Dainik Jagran (Jagran). (Jagran has 74 editions in UP, whereas Ujala has 72.)
The analysis for the period between February 1 and 15 is based on the coverage on the front, editorial, and election supplement (Mahasamar in Jagran and Mahasangram in Ujala) pages. The election supplement is spread over at least three pages in both newspapers and is published on all days of the week. Jagran also covers the election campaign in Lucknow city on a separate page. The analysis is divided into two parts. The first part is organized around the parties, leaders, and locations covered in the newspapers. The second part looks at the issues, newspapers’ presentation style, women, and independent candidates.
The two newspapers focused mostly on the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (Congress), Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM)and Apna Dal. Only the first five parties were covered on the front pages. At least 45 parties are contesting this election.
a. Parties on the front pages
Between February 1 and 15, on four days none of the parties appeared on Dainik Jagran’s front page. On February 2, the Budget dominated the front page, while on February 11, the day of first phase polling, no political party was given space on the front page and on two other days (February 9 and 10) law and order related issues associated with contestants or people related to them were published on the front page. During the remaining 11 days, the BJP was covered on the front pages on eight days. The SP was covered on nine days, while the BSP was covered only on seven days. Interestingly, while the SP appeared on Jagran’s front pages on more days than the BJP between February 1 and 11 (first phase), the latter received more space.
Amar Ujala covered political parties on its front page on 10 days between February 1 and 15. On four days (February 1, 2,4 and 13), no political party was covered on the front page. On February 11, the first day of polling, Ujala published only information on the election schedule. Both the BJP and SP (excluding one day when only Mulayam Singh was covered on the front page) appeared on the front pages on ten and nine days, respectively, while the BSP received coverage on seven days. The BJP received greater coverage than the SP in terms of space, while the BSP and SP received comparable coverage. On February 15, Ujala covered the statements of speakers belonging to the BJP, SP, BSP and Congress, who participated in the newspaper’s programme Aamne Saamne on the front page and following page.
Since the newspapers’ coverage was rally and personality centric, more well-known campaigners meant more coverage. The BJP received greater coverage in both newspapers due to a large number of star campaigners. The coverage of the BSP and SP on the front pages appeared below or to the right of Modi (Image 1). The BSP got less coverage because it has only three key leaders – Mayawati, Satish Chandra Mishra and Naseemuddin Siddiqui. However, even though the SP too has only a handful of key leaders, the party’s coverage was driven by various developments related to Akhilesh.
The Congress was a distant fourth in terms of coverage. It received coverage mostly for its collaboration with the SP and conflict within the party over ticket distribution than for rallies and interviews of leaders.
The RLD, the traditional party of the Jats, concentrated in the districts under Phase 1 elections, received its first and only front page coverage on February 3 in Jagran (Pashchimi Uttar Pradesh me saja chunavi dangal, Electoral arena ready in western UP) and on February 8 in Ujala (Notebandi BJP kokhajayegi: RLD mukhiya Ajit Chaudhary, Demonetisation will destroy BJP).
The RLD’s list of candidates and its rallies, interviews, and statements of Ajit Chaudhary and Jayant Chaudhary were covered on other pages. Both newspapers analysed the diminishing popularity of the Chaudhary dynasty in its traditional stronghold Chaprauli in detail (Kuch to badli hain hawain, There is change in the wind, February 1, page 13, Jagran and Ajit-Jayant ne Jatland mein jhoki takat, Ajit-Jayanth put in all round efforts in Jatland, February 1, page 4, Ujala).
Jagran published the news on the inclusion of Mulayam Singh in RLD’s List of Star Campaigners on the front page and also mentioned that SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary was not aware of this (Lokdalke star pracharako me Mulayampahle number par, Mulayam on top of the RLD’s list of star campaigners, February 4), while Ujala published this news on page 4 (Lokdalke star pracharako me Mulayam Singh bhishamil, Mulayam included in RLD’s star campaigners, February 4, page 4). However, on the website of the Election Commission of India, the list of RLD’s Star Campaigners does not mention Mulayam Singh’s name.
b. Parties only on election pages
News about Apna Dal, an ally of the BJP based among the Kurmi community of south eastern UP, was mainly in the form of short information items on the election pages. Apna Dal (Anupriya Patel) received more coverage than Apna Dal (Krishna Patel). On the election pages, Ujala focused on the alliance between Anupriya and the BJP (BJP aur Apna Dal gath bandhan ki hogi pariksha, The BJP-Apna Dal alliance will be tested, February 11, page 6), while Jagran focused on the campaign of Union Minister of State (Health & Family Welfare) Anupriya Patel and also published her photos.
Ujala also covered the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) (February 3, page 4 andFebruary 6, page 6), the Communist Party of India (February 7, page 5 and February 8, page 6), the Nationalist Congress Party (February 8, page 6), the Janata Dal United (February 13, page 7), the Rashtriya Mahan Gantantra Party (February 1, page 4), the Republican Party India (February 13, page 6) and the Shiv Sena (February 5, page 5 and February 9, page 9).
Ujala covered the rallies of CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechuri (February 15, page 6) and Subhashini Ali (February 12, page 5). Jagran published information on Yechuri’s campaign planning (February 10, page 13), the Ojaswi Party (February 10, page 13), the Republican Party India (February 6, page 14), the Janata Dal United (February 14, page 9) and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (February 2, page 21).
Jagran published AIMIM candidate Maulana Masihullah’s response to the BJP’s Suresh Rana in Kairana me curfew laga kardikhaye Rana, Let Rana try to impose curfew on Kairana, February 4. It also published Owaisi’s statements with his photo (UP se Akhilesh ko benakab karke jaunga, Will go back from UP only after exposing Akhilesh, February 7, page 9; Notebandi se desh ka bedagark hua, Demonetisation has sunk the country’s economy, February 11, page 16; BJP aur Sangh dono hi ik jaise, BJP and RSS are alike, February 12, page 15).
AIMIM’s president Asaduddin Owaisi received more space in Ujala (Modi aur Akhilesh eki sikke ke do pahlu, Modi and Akhilesh, two sides of the same coin, February 5, page 3 and an interview on February 6, page 5, Secularism ke nam par dhokha dene valo ko benakab karenge, Will expose those cheating in the name of secularism). But, on February 14,Ujala criticized Owaisi for disclosing the names of gang rape victims in Muzaffarnagar riots (Owaisi ne Muzaffarnagar gang rape piditaon ke nam ginaye, page 5).
SP/Akhilesh Yadav: Akhilesh received more coverage than other leaders, even more than PM Modi. He received maximum space on February 12, when Jagran published half a page interview. He remained in the news for a variety of reasons such as rallies, interviews, conflict with Shivpal Singh Yadav, Mulayam Singh’s flip-flops, ticket distribution, and alliance with the Congress. An op-ed in Jagran noted that the SP and Congress created opportunities to capture the attention of media (Charcha me rahne ki chunaviran neeti,The electoral strategy of remaining in limelight, A.K. Verma, February 3, Jagran).
Jagran highlighted Akhilesh’s conflict with Shivpal Singh Yadav (Shivpal ka akhiri daanv,”Shivpal’s last gamble, February 1), while Ujala paid more attention to Mulayam Singh’s dilemma (Andekhi ki pida aur bête ke bhavishya ke beech fanse Mulayam, ”Mulayam caught between the pain of neglect and son’s future, February 3, page 2). Though Akhilesh’s rallies and interviews received significant coverage, he was often seen only justifying his alliance with the Congress, explaining conflict within the family and also trying to convince people that all was well between him and his father. Jagran mocked his condition in cartoons on February 1 and 7 (Image 2a).
Even though Mulayam Singh did not actively campaign in the first phase, he was covered twice on the front pages of Ujala and once on Jagran’s front page. His statements and campaign planning were covered by both newspapers (Image 9) and he also figured in Jagran’s cartoons (Image 2a). After the phase 1 polls, he addressed two rallies in Jaswantnagar (Etawah), which received significant coverage in both newspapers on February 12 and 14. Ujala also covered his February 11 rally on the front page. On February 14, both newspapers highlighted his statement on Akhilesh.
On February 1, Shivpal Singh’s announcement about the formation of a new party was a major headline in both newspapers: Shivpal ne kiyanayi party banane ka ailan (Shivpal declares his intention to form a new party, page 1, Jagran) and Shivpalnai party banayenge (Shivpal will form a new party, page 3, Ujala). Both used the same photo showing Shivpal Singh filing his nomination form in Jaswantnagar. The details given in both these news items clearly note that Shivpal Singh would form a new party after winning elections on the SP’s ticket. However, the headlines convey the opposite message.
During this period, Dimple Yadav first appeared in these newspapers on February 7 in connection with the campaign planning and also received coverage on Ujala’s front page on February 9. Ram Gopal Yadav’s response to the emergence of rebel candidates was covered in both newspapers. Lalu Yadav’s rally in support of his son-in-law and SP candidate Rahul Yadav received more coverage in Jagran (February 9, page 13) than in Ujala (February 9, page 6). Amar Singh was covered on the front page once in Jagran. (February 12).
Outside the Yadav family, except Azam Khan, Rajendra Chaudhary, and Naresh Chandra Uttam, no other SP candidates/leaders received coverage for their statements or rallies. All three are among the SP’s star campaigners. Azam Khan was covered specially for his attack on PM Modi (PM to Ravan kahlane laayak bhi nahi hai, PM is not even fit to be called Ravan, February 8, page 5, Ujala).
The resignation of Gaurav Bhatia (Supreme Court advocate and SP spokesperson) from the SP membership was covered prominently in both newspapers (February 6, Page 5, Ujala). SP MLA Rakesh (Charra constituency) figured in a photo in which he was shown touching Akhilesh’s feet. This was criticised in Jagran (Loktantra ki takat hai ya kamjori, Janta hi tay kare – People should decide if this is the power of democracy or its weakness, February 1,page 11), while Ujala published a comparatively larger photo and mocked the act (Charra ke vidhayak Rakesh Singh ne kuch is tarah abhivadan kiya-Charra MLA Rakesh Singh welcomed Akhilesh like this, February 1, page 3) (Image 3).
Amar Ujala, February 1, Page 3
BSP/Mayawati: Mayawati received more coverage in Ujala than in Jagran. Apart from Mayawati, only the BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra and Naseemuddin Siddiqui received coverage in both newspapers. Both of them are the party’s star campaigners. In comparison to Ujala, Jagran gave more coverage to Mishra. Both Ujala (Mayawati ne bhi shuru kiye lubhavani chunavi vade – Even Mayawati begins to make election promises, February 4 and Voto ki fasal ke liye hi yaad aate hai kisan, Farmers remembered to harvest votes, Febraury 15, page 4) and Jagran (Rashtriya manak par UP ko lane ki chunauti, Challenge in bringing UP to national standard, February 1, page 11) noted that unlike in the past, Mayawati has begun to make electoral promises.
BJP/NarendraModi: The BJP received a lot of coverage because of the large number of star campaigners including PM Modi (Prachar me bhi aage nikalane ki hod, Competition to emerge on top in campaign, February 8, page 4, Ujala and Kendriya Mantriyo ke kamkaj ka barometer bhi hain yah chunav, This election is also a barometer of the work of central ministers, February 11, page 4, Ujala).The rallies addressed by Modi received significant coverage in both newspapers.
Among all the interviews published during the period under review, Amit Shah’s interview just one day before first phase of polling received the maximum space. His interview, in which he appealed to Jat voters covered more than half of the page on February 10 in Ujala (page 8).
The SP objected to the Election Commission about the interview (SP ko Amit Shah ke interview par aapatti, SP has objections to Amit Shah’s interview, February 11, page 3, Ujala). After Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh received significant coverage in both newspapers. On February 10, Ujala published a standalone photo of Rajnath Singh looking at his wrist watch to check the time to finish his speech. Ujala’s caption (Loktantra ki taakat, The power of democracy, page 1) highlighted the caution observed by Rajnath Singh.
Apart from the coverage on the rallies and interviews of central ministers, both newspapers covered state level leaders such as Om Mathur (UP State in charge), Keshav Das Maurya (UP State President), Dinesh Sharma (Mayor of Lucknow) and Yogi Adityanath (MP Gorakhpur). Ujala also published BJP MP Udit Raj’s statement against Mayawati below a news item on Mayawati (Mayawati Dalit hiteshi nahi, Mayawati is not well-wisher of Dalits, February 4, page 3).
Congress/Rahul Gandhi: Between February 1 and February 5, Rahul Gandhi was not covered independently in either newspaper. On February 6, a standalone photo of him appeared in Ujala. The caption (Helicopter se pahunche Rahul, bole notebandi se aam aadmi pareshan, Rahul reaches by helicopter, says common man is troubled by demonetisation, page 5) mocked his concern for the common man (Image 4). On the front page of Jagran, Gandhi received independent coverage only twice and that too below Akhilesh (Bihar ki tarah UP me bhi hoga BJP ka safaya, BJP will be wiped out of UP as in Bihar, February 7, and Notebandi se badhi berozgari, Unemployment increased because of demonetisation, February 14) (Image 4).
Ujala discussed Priyanka Gandhi’s campaign in (Pahle do charano mein Priyanka ko maidan me utarane ki yojana nahin, No plans to field Priyanka in the first two phases, February 6, page 6; Priyanka 13 se utrengi maidan mein, Priyanka will enter the field on the 13th, February 10, page 1).
Apart from Rahul Gandhi, Raj Babbar and ex-minister and candidate Akhilesh Das appeared in these newspapers more than twice. Raj Babbar was mocked in Ujala for not being able to manage the crowd (Raj Babbar kem samne photo khichvane ko lekar chale laat ghunse, Fighting for photo opportunity with Raj Babbar, February 3, page 4 and Bheed jutane ki ladai mein bheed se aeise bache Raj Babbar, Trying to attract a crowd, this is how Raj Babbar was saved from the crowd, February 6, page 5) (Image 5).
Ashok Gehlot and Sriprakash Jaiswal‘s interviews and Ghulam Nabi Azad’s rally were also covered. P.L. Punia, member of the Rajya Sabha and chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes,appeared three times in these newspapers: accompanying his son going to file his nomination (Ek aur neta putra ki entry, Another politician’s son enters politics, February 1, page 5 with photo,Ujala), statement (Bhasha no se samaj mein zehar ghol rahe Bhajpai, BJP leaders are spreading venom in society through speeches, February 10, page 6, Ujala), and rally (Akhilesh phir banenge mukhya mantri, Akhilesh will become CM once again, February 7, page 9, Jagran). However, neither newspaper asked if it was right for a constitutional authority to get involved in elections.
The multi-stage election has allowed extensive campaigning at the constituency and district level. All districts falling under Phase 1 and Phase 2 elections were covered because both newspapers covered the rallies of star campaigners and the constituencies of major leaders. Lucknow was reported more than any other location as the state head offices of all parties are here and this study is based on the Lucknow editions of the newspapers.
Compared to Ujala, Jagran covered Lucknow in greater detail. Between February 1 and 11, Amethi and Raebareli appeared on the front pages and election pages of both newspapers because of the conflict over ticket distribution between the SP and Congress and the electoral contest between Garima Singh and Amita Singh (Rani aur Patrani aamne samne, Queen and Royal Consort faceoff, February 10, page 1,Ujala).
Out of 45 parties that are contesting the elections, both newspapers paid attention mainly to five parties namely the BJP, SP, BSP, Congress, RLD and Apna Dal. The BJP received more and mostly positive coverage, compared to other parties. Since the newspapers’ coverage was rally and personality centric, more well-known campaigners meant more coverage.
The BJP received greater coverage in both newspapers due to a large number of star campaigners. While the BSP received less coverage than the SP, it did not receive any negative coverage, unlike the latter. The Congress received coverage mostly for its alliance with the SP. The RLD was a distant fifth in terms of coverage. Apna Dal received coverage mostly for the alliance with the BJP. Other parties including the CPI, JDU, and NCP barely attracted any attention.
On the days he addressed rallies in UP, PM Modi received more coverage than any other leader. But overall, Akhilesh Yadav received more coverage than others, partly because he is the chief minister and partly because of the infighting within his family and the sudden alliance with Congress.
Rahul Gandhi received coverage only because of the alliance with SP and his front page appearances were always below or within the news about Akhilesh. Mayawati was covered less than Modi and Akhilesh but, unlike the latter, she was not questioned at all on her party’s stand on different issues. In fact, even Akhilesh was questioned only on certain industries, the sugarcane sector, and law and order, but not on communal disturbances throughout his tenure.
The next part will discuss the issues raised in these two newspapers, their presentation style, and the way women and independent candidate were covered.
Ankita Pandey is an independent researcher based in Bengaluru. She wrote this article for The Hoot , a not-for-profit initiative. Part 2 of the story may be read on this link- How Jagran and Ujala covered UP: Part II