Narendra Modi’s sweeping win did not only make front-page news in Pakistan, the country’s papers and news websites also seemed interested in informing readers about the vote swing from the Left to the BJP in Bengal, which is neither on Pakistan’s border, nor heard much in Indo-Pak discourse.
The newspaper Dawn also carried a piece in its inside pages on Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s campaign. The report was by the Reuters news agency, but the decision to carry it is remarkable because Opposition losers in neighbouring countries are rarely news subjects in India.
There was also much mirth shared by Urdu newspaper, Daily Jung, at the expense of Arnab Goswami, whose Sunny Leone faux-pas while talking about Sunny Deol’s election performance is now viral.
This is what some of Pakistan’s leading media outlets said on May 23:
On its front page, the English newspaper Dawn published Modi’s landslide win and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s congratulatory message to him. “In projecting himself as the choreographer of air raids on Balakot across the border Mr Modi severely bruised a fractious and unequal opposition,” Dawn said.
“His Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shocked a formidable lower caste coalition of Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh by winning 60 of the 80 seats,” the paper said.
About the BJP’s gains in Bengal, the paper wrote: “Analysts said traditional votes of the Left Front had switched over to the BJP in West Bengal, enabling the right-wing party to put up a spectacular show against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.”
The lead opinion piece in the paper was on the Indian election results and its implication for Indo-Pak ties. On another pge, the paper carried a report on the Congress’ fumbling campaign.
The Express Tribune
“BJP stuns rivals with big win”, read the front page headline in The Express Tribune. Modi’s re-election, the report said, “reinforces the global trend of right-wing populists sweeping to victory, from the United States to Brazil and Italy, often after adopting harsh positions on protectionism, immigration and defence”. Another story mentioned Imran Khan’s vow to work with Indian Prime Minister for peace and prosperity.
The channel had a detailed report that included election results from different Indian states. It had news on the seats of Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Sunny Deol, Hema Malini, Jaya Prada and Farooq Abdullah. The report started with wordplay on BJP’s election slogan: “Bharat mein ab ki baar bhi Modi sarkaar”.
ARY News TV
The TV channel’s website had three stories on the Indian election results – two on Modi’s response to Imran Khan’s message and a new Modi cabinet, the other on Pragya Thakur. The article: “Terror-accused Hindu hardliner Pragya Thakur wins parliamentary seat in Bhopal”, was a report from an international agency Reuters.
It published two opinion pieces that tried to make sense of Modi’s win and its impact on bilateral relations. One of the pieces may make the BJP squirm as it said that the two countries made progress in relations only during when a BJP government was in power. The BJP led by Amit Shah has tried to project a belligerent stance against Pakistan.
On Arnab Goswami’s faux pas, the paper had a separate piece. “Bhartiya sahafi ki galti ka social media par mazaak ban gaya (Indian journalist made fun of on social media),” the headline read. Goswami, while informing viewers about BJP candidate Sunny Deol’s lead in Gurdaspur, said “Sunny Leone” and then corrected himself.
Leone, who is known for steamy numbers and scenes, tweeted in jest.