Indian media: BJP's 'innovative chai campaign'

Narendra Modi discussed issues related with governance over a cup of tea with his supporters on Wednesday. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Narendra Modi discussed issues related to governance over a cup of tea with his supporters on Wednesday

Media in India are highlighting the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) "innovative" Chai Pe Charcha (Discussions over Tea) campaign ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Narendra Modi, the BJP's candidate for PM, often talks about his "humble beginnings" as a tea vendor to connect with voters in his rallies.

But his "chai campaign" took a digital form on Thursday when he used the internet to address people at 1,000 tea stalls across the country, reports say.

The New Indian Express said Mr Modi used "an innovative live interaction programme" to answer voters' questions on several issues, including good governance.

"As part of the innovative campaign, Mr Modi likened a tea stall with that of a 'footpath parliament' and looked to connect and interact with voters," says the Business Standard.

Mr Modi later described the event as successful.

"Through this campaign, I have got the opportunity to reach out to so many people. Tea and technology have given us this great opportunity," The Economic Times quotes him as saying.

But the ruling Congress party sees the BJP's campaign as "a storm in a teacup".

"Those who are trying to bring a storm in a teacup, I do not know whether they would succeed in creating this storm," a report on the CNN-IBN website quotes Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari as saying.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has decided to preserve the house of Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh, the Hindustan Times reports.

The paper says the move is not surprising because "India and Pakistan may be at loggerheads, but they share the same legacy, as also the stars of the Independence struggle from British rule'.

"The house where Bhagat Singh was born still has some of his family's belongings, including his mother's spinning wheel; a big copper paraat (kneading tray), two wooden trunks and a heavy closet of steel," the report adds.

'Racial attacks'

Moving on to some domestic news, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday said the recent attacks against students from the north-eastern states was "a disturbing trend", the Hindustan Times reports.

Two students were allegedly beaten on Monday in what many described as "hate crimes" against citizens from the north-east, who are ethnically close to people from Burma and China.

Nido Tania, another student, was beaten on 5 February by shopkeepers who had ridiculed his appearance. He died the next day due to internal injuries, his post-mortem report says.

"If the country is to survive and to be at peace, each of us has to respect the rights of others and cultivate the ability to live together," the court said while hearing a case related to Mr Tania's death.

In some news that is likely to narrow this gulf, the army has promoted Konsam Himalay Singh, who is from the north-eastern state of Manipur, to the rank of lieutenant-general - a first for any officer from the region.

"Amid reports of alienation of the north-east, there is some good news for the region - it has got its first lieutenant-general in the army," says The Indian Express.

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